HospiceWits appoints dedicated palliative care doctor

HospiceWits has appointed Dr Charles Mangolele to a full time position as a Palliative Home Care Doctor. Dr Mangolele took up the position on 1 September 2023.

Palliative care is administered to people who have serious and life-threatening illnesses, particularly to those who are in need of end-of-life care. Palliative care doesn’t just focus on the disease a patient has, but understands that the patient is a whole person, and while they may be struggling with a serious illness, they are not that illness. As a result those working in palliative care seek to mitigate the side effects of medications and treatments for serious illness, as well as to deal with the symptoms of the disease itself.

People with life-threatening diseases and those who are in need of end-of-life care experience an array of distressing symptoms. These include pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, loss of appetite, and insomnia. And while these physical symptoms are difficult, the patient will have to contend with emotional, psychological and spiritual challenges at the same time.

This is where a palliative care professional, who is experienced in the required care and has dedicated their profession to it, comes in. HospiceWits understands the need for such highly specialised care and this is why Dr Mangolele was appointed to a full time position:  to provide the appropriate medical and professional support to patients under his care, and visiting them in their homes.

Not only that, but he will also be involved with meeting physicians in private practice and in hospitals to educate them on the multi-disciplinary approach HospiceWits takes towards hospice care for patients in need. 

“My job basically entails managing all the nursing staff that are part of our Homecare team,” he says, “I go out there to visit patients, arrange family meetings and collaborate with those involved with managing our patients.”

Dr Mangolele feels that his role is to provide support and additional services to patients who are under the care of their primary physicians for whatever illness they are battling or managing.

Previously, he worked part time as the Palliative Homecare Doctor for HospiceWits. Now, he has greater scope and more time to provide patients with the holistic care and attention that they need.

“What I feel is the most important aspect of this role is the home visits, being in contact with their loved ones and making sure that they know that HospiceWits is there to take care of their needs,” he says.

The primary physician remains part of the treatment team, even though Dr Mangolele is providing additional support. He feels it’s important as the primary physician knows the patient’s history, and has an established relationship with them and their family.

“We are aware of the stigma around hospice involvement and what we are trying to do is educate people about what we do,” he says. He feels strongly that hospice should be involved from the moment of diagnosis rather than when the patient approaches the end of their lives. Being involved earlier on will allow hospice to provide greater care, comfort and support to the patient.

Families are welcome to approach hospice for assistance, and they are also open to accept referrals from friends, doctors and even neighbours. Patient consent, however, is a priority in these situations.

Palliative care is an extension of the treatment a patient has been receiving. What it means is that a different type of treatment and care needs to be administered to the patient, which is more appropriate to the stage of their illness.

“Our main goal is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, preferably in their own homes,” says Dr Mangolele.

He warns that medications need to be administered responsibly for patients being cared for during their care. It is important that professionals are aware of the best practices when it comes to administering drugs for patients in hospice.

Palliative care is available for people of all ages and for all life threatening illnesses. It provides patients with the opportunity to maintain some quality of life as well as dignity whilst enduring their greatest physical challenges.

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