Category: Care

DEDICATION TO MR ALAN LOOMES

Mr Alan Loomes was first introduced to HospiceWits in 1999 through our Architect Nicholas Whitcutt to launch the construction of our training centre at Mofolo Clinic complex in Soweto.

The project was sponsored by funds generously donated by the Japanese Government and complimented the containers that housed at least 15 patients.  

The complex of two lecture rooms and administration offices were built by Alan and his teams, and many students have since benefitted from our Hospice Palliative care program, and our current Anciliary training courses.

Alan was invited to join the HospiceWits Board of Trustees in 2004, during which time he spent some two years prospecting for a suitable site for a Hospice Flagship Clinic, which was finally found in Diepkloof, Soweto. Together with the Hospice Team of Carers, a tender was submitted to the Johannesburg Property Company, and was duly accepted.

Together with the late Hymie Moross, Architect, the Diepkloof Hospice was built with the help of the donations from the National Lottery Board, many local institutions/organisations and International Governments.

HospiceWits in Soweto officially opened its doors in March 2007, consisting of a Paediatric IPU, a Male/Female Adult IPU and offering Homecare nursing to patients in the comfort of their own homes.

A highlight of Alan’s time with HospiceWits was when he hosted a royal visit from Her Highness, Princess Caroline of Monaco, who supports international institutions where children are a strong inclusion.

All of this would not have happened without the teamwork and support from the Hospice staff at that time, represented by Barbara Campbell-Ker, the Executive Director.

In the last number of years, Alan was enticed back by the current CEO, Jacqui Kaye, to offer his time, skills and experience in assisting HospiceWits to source potential tenants for our Soweto site, advising on cost saving initiatives, being in contact with the Johannesburg Property Company to ensure compliance and maintaining good working relationships, and engaging on our behalf with small businesses in the Soweto community. Alan was instrumental in securing and negotiating with BGM Renal Care to lease a portion of the Diepkloof site out as a Renal Dialysis Clinic. His untimely death means that Alan will not be able to stand tall and proud when the clinic is launched. His absence will be felt and his major contribution will be shared and appreciated.

HospiceWits had the honour of partnering with a hardworking, trustworthy, passionate and reliable person in Mr Alan Loomes, and we deeply mourn his loss. He always arrived with a smile, entertained with humour, and left having touched our lives in a positive way.

Our condolences to Merle and his family at this time, as well as to his partners and colleagues, who will continue to uphold his legacy.

  It was with deep regret that I received your note informing us of the sad passing of Alan Loomes. May his dear soul R.I.P and I would appreciate you conveying to his wife, Merle in Knysna, my deepest sympathies and the wish that his dear soul rests in peace.   Alan did so much for HospiceWits. May this be a blessing for his soul and for his heart- broken family he has left behind.   He will always be remembered and I think it would be a fitting tribute to his memory that Alan and what he did for HospiceWits is never forgotten.   Michael Judin
  Alan’s work and his passion for HospiceWits was by no means concluded. His warm smile and his jovial personality will be remembered with fondness. He is already sorely missed by me and all at HospiceWits.   Jacqui Kaye : CEO
Board Members:   Our heartfelt condolences to the Loomes family and the hospice family- indeed a sad loss to all.                                                                              Esme Pudule   Condolences to all affected by this sad news.           Hiten Keshave   My sincere condolences to Merle – very sad news indeed.      Dr Brad Beira

How older people can stay healthy as winter approaches

The pandemic has drawn our attention to the importance of staying healthy through the winter months – and this is especially true for people who are older, or those who are suffering from life-limiting illnesses.

This winter, the focus will not only fall on preventing the flu, as is normally the case this time of year, but with the need to take additional measures to also protect ourselves against COVID-19.

The following are a few suggestions to help keep you and your loved ones healthy and safe this winter:

  1. Stay warm

Older people don’t have the same ability to tolerate fluctuating temperatures as they did when they were younger, and need something extra to stay warm. In this regard, caretakers and family members will find that a few layers of clothing instead of a single chunky layer is more efficient, along with an extra blanket or two on the bed and on the chair.

If you’re using hot water bottles or an electric blanket in bed, take care not to use these two together, and make sure that the heat of the electric blanket is not turned up too high, to prevent burns.

  • If possible, stay active

Another way of staying warm when temperatures drop is to stay active. During the day, when it is more bearable to do so, a quick walk around the garden can do wonders for the body.  It can also invigorate the mind and do a lot to soothe mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. If a person isn’t able to walk by him or herself anymore, even simple armchair exercises may be enough to get the heart rate up and the blood pumping.

  • Ensure they are eating a healthy diet

Our eating habits play an important role in our overall health.  Even though we tend to gravitate towards hearty, carbohydrate-rich meals like stews, we should try and ensure that older people, and those living with life-limiting illnesses, still consume plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit as part of a healthy diet. If needs be, and if recommended by a primary care physician, use supplements (vitamins B, C, D, along with zinc and probiotics) as well as nutritional shakes to make up for any shortfalls.

  • Stay hydrated

It is easier to ensure that our loved ones are drinking enough water in summer, but making sure they are hydrated can prove more difficult during the colder months. While we all tend to drink more hot beverages like coffee and tea in the winter, it is important to remember that caffeinated drinks can lead to dehydration, which can lead to further problems. Keep track of the amount of water being consumed every day to prevent this.

It goes without saying that people are more likely to get sick in winter than they are in summer. When it comes to older family members, it is especially important to ensure that they stay healthy. Simple things like good eating habits and some activity during the day make a huge difference when it comes to overall health and wellbeing.  Remember to show you care by visiting them and making regular phone calls.

To find out more about the palliative care services offered by HospiceWits in the greater Johannesburg region, click here.

How can HospiceWits help you become a qualified carer?

Aside from providing care that meets the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families residing in the greater Johannesburg region, HospiceWits also offers the opportunity to gain the qualifications that are necessary to start a professional journey as a carer.

HospiceWits, in association with the Centre for Palliative Learning (CPL) and Healthcare Skills Development, presents aspiring carers with accredited courses that equip the students with the range of the skills required to enter this profession.

All courses are presented by Francois De Marcy Pugin, the supervisor at our CPL, a registered nurse general, community and psychiatry, an accoucher, and also the Quality Assurance Coordinator for HospiceWits.

Accredited courses

Accredited courses offer students the opportunity to start the journey of becoming a qualified nurse, whilst also gaining qualifications in home-based care. Students are able to gain their nursing qualification at an institute of Higher Education after graduating from our NQF Level 3 course (L3 Home-Based Personal Carer).

  • L2 Assisted Home-Based Personal Carer

This NQF Level 2 accredited course entails six months of full-time training, practical work and work skills placement. The theoretical component of the course is presented via face-to-face sessions, while the practical component takes place both at HospiceWits’ in-patient facility and with patients who receive home-based care. The minimum entry requirement for this course is grade 9 (with a pass in English) or an ABET learner qualification in NQF Level 1.

Credits earned: 70

Cost: R19 000

  • L3 Home-Based Personal Carer

The L3 Home-Based Personal Carer course further qualifies a person in home-based care, and consists of 12 months of full-time training, practicals and work skills placement. Just like the L2 Assisted Home-Based Personal Carer course, the theoretical component of the L3 Home-Based Personal Carer course is presented via face-to-face sessions, with the practical component taught at HospiceWits’ in-patient facility and with patients who receive home-based care. The minimum entry requirement for this course is matric with passing grades in English and Maths (core or literacy).

Credits earned: 135

Cost: R27 000

Please take note that registration for any of HospiceWits’ accredited courses is always open – please see the first semester course start dates for the accredited NQF Level 2 and Level 3 courses by clicking here and scrolling down to the table.

Also click here to see a detailed breakdown of each accredited and non-accredited course on offer, and send an email to training@hospicewits.co.za for more information or to get registration forms.

Here’s how HospiceWits’s short courses can set you on a path to provide care in your community

South Africa’s healthcare services were already overburdened and overstretched before COVID-19 struck, but the pandemic has made the need for adequate healthcare and supportive therapeutic skills in our communities even more acute.

HospiceWits, in association with the Centre for Palliative Learning and Healthcare Skills Development, aims to fill this gap by equipping people with the skills needed to provide care in their communities through a range of short, non-accredited courses.

All courses are presented by Francois De Marcy Pugin, the supervisor at our CPL, a registered nurse general, community and psychiatry, an accoucher, and also the Quality Assurance Coordinator for HospiceWits.

Non-accredited courses

The short, non-accredited courses offered through HospiceWits’ training department provide the opportunity for adult-based learning, self-enhancement and learning development. By completing these courses, students equip themselves with professional, supportive and therapeutic skills to utilise within their communities and alleviate the burden on South African healthcare systems, which are especially under pressure at the moment. All non-accredited courses are NQF Level 1.

  • Ancillary Healthcare Workers Course (AHC)

This course’s duration is 10 days (over a three-month period) and has both a theoretical (conducted via face-to-face sessions) and a practical component, which touch on the following aspects related to home care:

– General hygiene in the home.

– Bed bathing, bed making, and making sure the patient is comfortable at all times.

– Mouth care and proper cleaning procedures.

– Prevention of bedsores by regular massage of body parts and changing positions.

– Temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure.

– Basic nutrition and education to family members about what to feed the patient.

– Care of the dying, preparation of the family and patients, unfinished matters.

– HIV/AIDS and TB. 

– Foundational anatomy and physiology. 

– Professional communication as opposed to social communication. 

– Patient rights and dignity. 

Assessments, assignments and tests will be written, and a certificate will be issued upon completion.

Cost: R4700

  • Community Home-Based Palliative Care Introduction Course (PHBC)

Also completed in 10 days over a three-month period, the PHBC has a theoretical (conducted via face-to-face sessions) and a practical component, which equip students with the following skills relating to home care.

– General hygiene in the home.

– Bed bathing, bed making and making sure the patient is comfortable at all times.

– Mouth care and proper cleaning procedures.

– Prevention of bedsores by regular massage of body parts and changing positions.

– Temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure (BP).

– Basic nutrition and education to family members about what to feed the patient.

– Care of the dying, preparation of the family and patients, unfinished matters.

– Professional communication as opposed to social communication.

– Patient rights and dignity.

– Palliative care to persons with life-threatening illnesses; includes symptom management, pain control, medication management and much more.

Assessments, assignments and tests will be written, and a certificate will be issued upon completion.

Cost: R4700

  • Anticipated Grief, Loss and Bereavement Course (GLB)

Aimed at supporting both adults and children, the theoretical component of these courses is presented via face-to-face workshops. The course helps students:

– To increase knowledge and understanding of grief, loss and bereavement.

– To develop insight into grief through the ages.

– To learn new and creative ways of supporting the bereaved.

– To develop new insights and skills for grief and bereavement support.

– To enhance self-awareness.

Cost: Adults – R2500, Children – R2500

  • Dementia Course (DEM)

This two-day workshop equips caregivers to offer appropriate supportive care to people who have dementia-related conditions. The course has theoretical and practical components.

Cost: R2500

  • Practical Nursing Care Course (PNC)

This 10-day workshop introduces students to basic nursing procedures, including but not limited to:

– Bed bathing, bed making, and making sure the patient is comfortable at all times.

– Mouth care and proper cleaning procedures.

– Prevention of bedsores by regular massage of body parts and changing positions.

– Temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure.

– Basic nutrition and education to family members about what to feed the patient.

Cost: R2500

Please take note that registration for any of HospiceWits’ non-accredited courses is always open. Non-accredited courses will start once the course intake is full, and dates will be communicated in due course in this regard.

Click here to see a detailed breakdown of each accredited and non-accredited course on offer, and send an email to training@hospicewits.co.za for more information or to get registration forms.

How to take care of your mental health when you’re in the midst of mourning

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago has brought with it many lessons. The most painful of these has probably been learning to cope with grief. Of course, the families and friends of people who pass away from a terminal illness know this hard process all too well.

How does one cope with the immense impact of grief brought about by the death of a loved one?  During this very difficult and emotional grieving process, how do we take care of our mental wellbeing?

As we navigate the sadness that the impact of the coronavirus brings with it, here are a few tips to make sure you take care of your mental health.

Try to manage anticipatory grief

Grief expert and author David Kessler describes a lot of what we are feeling now as anticipatory grief, which is a common reaction when the future is uncertain. For example, when someone we love is diagnosed with a terminal illness, one of the strong underlying emotions is anxiety, which can greatly hamper a person’s mental wellbeing.

Kessler recommends that people who feel this way should try not to allow their minds to wander to thoughts about the future, but instead to remain in the present. Mindfulness practices such as meditation are very helpful techniques to learn, which will help alleviate symptoms of anticipatory grief, like anxiety.

Self-care is key

While it may be extremely difficult to take care of oneself after experiencing the immense loss of a loved one, self-care is very important,  and even just exercising basic techniques of meditation, relaxation or other means to de-stress oneself can be helpful.

Ensuring that you remain hydrated, eat regular meals, and are getting enough rest will strengthen you through the grieving process by keeping your immunity boosted and strong, which will aid you in fighting off infections. Even spending some time languishing in a bath with aromatherapy oils and bath salts, and practising calming breathing techniques can be relaxing and healing.

Recognise that grief takes time

Going through the steps that traditionally constitute the grieving process is a timeous affair.  According to Dr Kubler Ross, there are traditionally five steps in the process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is also important to acknowledge the sixth step, often unbeknown to us, which is litigation. Someone needs to be blamed for what is happening to us and for the loss that we are experiencing. The financial bills that are piling up from medical treatment, funerals and unplanned expenditures can lead to great social anxieties. Fear of things like losing your house or reliable transport, and depression can all contribute to feelings of isolation and being alone in your grief. No matter the order in which you experience them, the grieving process itself takes time. Acknowledge that life without your loved one will never be the same, but that it will take time to get used to this fact. The reality is that the impact of your loss never really diminishes or disappears completely, but rather that one adjusts life to live around the circle of grief and loss.

Reach out

The pandemic has made it difficult to honour some of the traditions we have embraced when saying goodbye to a loved one, which has made it especially hard to grieve in the ways we are used to. Even so, reaching out to family and friends to share the grief you are feeling can be vital in not letting the isolation that COVID-19 requires get to us.

Discuss your grief with the people you stay with, and get in touch with others via telephone or video call. If feelings of grief are causing you mental distress, do not hesitate to contact a professional counsellor, therapist or psychologist.

Sihlangene is HospiceWits’s specialist psychosocial team, comprising a qualified general practitioner with a postgraduate specialist qualification in palliative medicine, a psychiatric nurse, specialist frontline workers, management, coordinators, and a diverse group of counsellors hailing from various training backgrounds and with varied experience. Sihlangene provides psychosocial care to HospiceWits patients and to their loved ones, as well as to members of our communities.

If you would like to find out more about Sihlangene’s services, please contact our office on 011 483 9100 or send an email to francois@hospicewits.co.za.

How to make the festive season special for family or friends receiving hospice care

The festive season is traditionally a time of togetherness with those closest to us, but it is easy to forget about the beauty of this time of the year when one has a family member or close friend who is receiving hospice care.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be the case, and there are a myriad of ways to make the festive season special – for you and for your family member. Whether they are receiving palliative care in an in-patient facility or at home, spreading the Christmas cheer will help to lift everyone’s spirit, and end the year with a profound sense of gratitude.

If your loved one is receiving home care

When a family member is receiving palliative care at home, it is important to take note of the following:

  • If guests are coming over, keep in mind that decorations, activities and guest accommodation should not interfere with the aspects and equipment related to your loved one’s care.
  • Ask your relative what Christmas traditions they would like to have incorporated. Find out what their favourite Christmas rituals, songs and movies are, and try to make these a part of your celebrations this year.
  • Remember that your loved one might not be able to keep up with the pace of the silly season – try not overwhelm or over-stimulate them with too many guests or activities at once.

If your loved one is receiving in-patient care

Not having a relative join the rest of the family can by trying for everyone involved, but you can make this time special for a loved one, even when they’re not at home.

  • Christmas is known for the culinary delights associated with it. Ask your loved one what Christmas dishes they have been craving, then prepare these and take it to them on Christmas Day.
  • Take the Christmas spirit to your loved one by putting up decorations and lights in their room – a tiny Christmas tree will literally and figuratively brighten their space.
  • Remember your loved one may not want any Christmas treats – respect that wish.

If you are unable to spend Christmas with your loved one due to Covid-19 restrictions

This year has been challenging for all of us, and indeed, many festive celebrations will be disrupted due to Covid-19. If you are unable to pay your loved one a visit this year, make them feel loved by sending a gift or care package, letting them know that you are with them in spirit. Ensure that you give them a call on Christmas Day to wish them well.

Not being able to be close to our nearest and dearest can be tough on everyone. If you are feeling low at the prospect of not seeing your family member this year, try to incorporate their favourite traditions into your own celebrations to ensure that they are still an integral part of your Christmas festivities.

Fill your Christmas stockings at the HospiceWits shops

If you’ve ever visited one of our HospiceWits charity shops in Johannesburg, you’ll know that the sheer variety available is staggering. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it at a HospiceWits shop. Add to this the fact that the items we stock in our shops are very reasonably priced, and it makes sense why HospiceWits’ charity shops should be your first stop when you start ticking items off your Christmas shopping list.

The HospiceWits charity shops are based in Parkmore, Orange Grove and Kensington, along with our regular spot at the Rosebank Flea Market, each with its own collection of treasures. Ranging from second-hand clothing, wool and household appliances to vintage items, board games, books and white elephant items, there is truly something for every taste.

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly impacted all of our lives this year, and if you are looking to scale down the spend on Christmas presents, or for something to suit the budget set for your company’s Secret Santa celebrations, HospiceWits shops are where you will be able to tick items off your gift-shopping list.

An appeal for donations

Every item sold in our HospiceWits charity shops adds to the funds that our non-profit organisation needs to provide care and support to our patients, and cater for all the costs associated with our palliative care services in Johannesburg and surrounds.

When dropping by to do your Christmas shopping, please consider bringing along unused clothing, books and household and miscellaneous items to donate. Keeping our shelves stocked this December is key – especially considering that you’ll probably leave with more items than when you arrived.

We are always looking for:

• Pots, pans and kitchen goods
• Crockery, cutlery
• Linen and curtains
• Ladies’, men’s and children’s clothing
• Furniture
• Electrical items in working order
• Ornaments, bric-a-brac, general home goods
• Books, DVDs and CDs
• Toys

We always appreciate any non-perishable food donations for distribution to our patients.

Thank you in advance for your support, as we look forward to welcoming you to our HospiceWits charity shops soon during this festive season.

Parkmore

Location: Corner of 11th Street and Elizabeth Avenue
Contact number: 011 883 7242
Email address: parkmore@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 08:00 – 14:00

Orange Grove

Location: 199 Louis Botha Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: depot@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Kensington

Location: 163 Queen Street
Contact number: 011 615 3343
Email address: kensington@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 14:00
Sunday: Closed
Public holidays: 09:00 – 14:00

Rosebank Flea Market

Location: Rosebank Mall, 15A Cradock Avenue
Contact number: 011 728 1052
Email address: shops@hospicewits.co.za

Operating hours

Sunday: 08:00 – 16:00

A word of gratitude from HospiceWits

When looking back at 2020, almost all the reflections are likely to speak of a time that was extraordinarily challenging, but that also yielded plenty of reason for hope. As HospiceWits ruminates on the year that has passed, this is certainly also the tone of our musings.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic put HospiceWits under immense strain as we continued to provide essential services to our communities. As an NPO, we are reliant upon donations from the public and from industry to help us provide these services. The virus had a devastating effect on livelihoods all across the country and the world, and similarly affected us and other organisations like ours.

Not being able to hold key events on our fundraising calendar in the traditional way certainly didn’t make things easier. However, despite the logistic obstacles that the national lockdown and social distancing requirements brought, we were still able to reinvent these events and present them in the online sphere.

The 7th annual HospiceWits Night With the Stars took to the online realm earlier this year, with more than 200 notable personalities banding together on Instagram, and calling on their supporters to contribute to HospiceWits, whilst raising awareness about the organisation’s work. Among the celebs that lent their voices to the cause on 28 July were Pabi Moloi, Brümilda van Rensburg, Lady Zamar, Gert-Johan Coetzee, David Tlale, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Marcia Barret of the music group, Boney M.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus also hampered this year’s HospiceWits Tree of Light celebration, which is traditionally held at the Johannesburg Zoo. Here, too, the internet provided an alternative outlet to focus our fundraising endeavours, and the first virtual Tree of Light gave supporters the opportunity to purchase virtual globes in remembrance of a loved one or to honour our healthcare workers, and share their messages online.

It goes without saying that the curveballs 2020 threw our way were unprecedented in so many ways. Even so, we have been continuously encouraged this year.

We would like to salute each HospiceWits staff member and volunteer – these selfless people have worked without skipping a beat since the pandemic first hit our shores, and have not ceased to provide palliative care and support services to patients in their care. Across the globe, we have seen the resilience and sheer grit of healthcare workers – we are most grateful to be able to call some of these super humans our colleagues.

Likewise, we thank our loyal supporters that keep providing donations (PPEs, pre-loved goods, meals), and who have undoubtedly also felt the knock of the pandemic in some way or another, but have kept us afloat, year-in and year-out, even when the seas have gotten a little stormy.

Lastly, our deep gratitude to everyone that has in some way contributed to HospiceWits this year. Your support and belief in our quality palliative care knows no bounds.

A new year beckons, and we would like to conclude by again humbly asking for your support in 2021, as we certainly wouldn’t be able to do our work without your contributions.

As we bid 2020 farewell, and all it has brought to bear on South Africa and the world, we go forward in hope. May 2021 be good to one and all.

This is how you can donate to HospiceWits with your MySchool card

South Africa’s leading community loyalty programme, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet has paid R57 million to a range of worthy causes this year alone, and has been a loyal supporter of these causes for more than a decade. Once you’ve signed up to receive your own MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card, you are able to nominate up to three charities, who will receive a percentage of your purchase every time you swipe your card at one of the programme’s partner stores.

If you are interested in supporting HospiceWits on a regular basis, but can’t afford regular cash donations, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme is the easiest way to assist us in our crucial fundraising efforts.

How to sign up

To sign up for the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme, simply visit the programme’s website and click on “Join” in the top-right corner. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to download a virtual card to your mobile device from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, or collect the card from your nearest Woolworths branch.

My School MyVillage MyPlanet has partnered with Woolworths, Engen QuickShops and Foodstops (excluding petrol and diesel purchases at Engen), loot.co.za and Bidvest Waltons, and every time you shop at one of these retailers and swipe your MySchool card at the till point, a percentage of the total amount of your purchase will be donated to your charity (or charities) of choice.

To select HospiceWits as one of your chosen charities, click on the drop-down menu labelled “Beneficiaries” at the top of the homepage, then click on “Search”, and type “Hospice Wits” (two words) into the search box, and click on “Hospice Wits”.

Discovery Vitality members who have Woolworths as their nominated food store will also be able to contribute when they swipe for every healthy food purchase made.

In addition, don’t forget to link your MySchool card to all your Woolies cards, and a percentage will also be given back when you swipe these cards at Woolworths.

Together with HospiceWits’ other annual fundraising efforts, the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme is an easy way to help us to continue doing our work in Johannesburg and Soweto. Your contribution is invaluable.

To find out about other ways in which can donate to HospiceWits, click here.

MySchool MyVillage My Planet has just announced a new partner – Builders Warehouse!

Please find step-by-step instructions to link your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet & Builders cards below. Please log in on www.builders.co.za to create your Builders profile, and follow steps below:

HospiceWits’ palliative care: here is what our doctors, home care nurses and patient’s families have to say

Patients who receive a terminal diagnosis are often taken aback when hospice care is suggested as a part of the holistic approach to the patient’s wellbeing. The negative associations that the word “hospice” carries stem from a range of misconceptions about what this type of care really entails, and especially the impression that receiving hospice care implies that the patient and their family have given up all hope.

HospiceWits abides by the principals of hospice care, and the palliative care provided by HospiceWits can be summarised as:

– Offering a support system that helps patients live as actively as possible until death.
– Affirming life and regarding dying as a normal process,
– Intending to neither hasten nor postpone death,

Ideally, palliative care should be a part of the treatment plan for patients with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions from the time of diagnosis, in conjunction with any treatment intended to prolong life.

This is not the case for many patients, as curative active aggressive intent with regards to treatment often takes preference over an approach that makes palliative care a part of the treatment plan from the very beginning, and not only when patients are in the last part of their lives.

What does the care provided by HospiceWits entail?

HospiceWits aims to help patients who are facing health challenges to manage and live life to the fullest, free of pain and anxiety, while supporting their families and loved ones. We respect the dignity of patients and their families, and provide support and guidance through an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to the provision of palliative care.

When patients register to receive palliative care from HospiceWits, a trained home care sister visits them in their homes or at the hospital to do a comprehensive assessment of their condition, based on the referral from the doctor who is treating them.

While hospice physicians and home care nurses work with the doctors and specialists treating a patient, the intention is not to replace them, but rather to provide additional support to the patient and their family, also with regards to their psychosocial wellbeing. This is provided by trained members of the HospiceWits psychosocial support team, consisting of counsellors, spiritual counsellors and social workers.

A home care sister’s account

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of patients and nursing sisters.

“We’re now on our way to visit a new, elderly patient, Mrs Patel*. Her family is very concerned about her – she’s bedridden and has several health and joint problems, including severe rheumatoid arthritis. A domestic worker takes care of the 84-year-old, but one of her daughters lives close by and spends a large part of every day with her.

“Sister Ingrid* takes a careful and detailed history, after which she addresses the patient, speaking slowly and clearly to the hard-of-hearing little lady tucked up in bed. After first checking her vital signs and then her back for bedsores, Sister recommends they employ an experienced day nurse to assist in turning the patient more frequently, and to give the family some respite from the physically demanding aspect of caring for their mother.

“Mrs Patel has seven children, and they will share the cost of employing a nurse. A phone call is made, and Sister tells the family the nurse will arrive at 08:00 the following day. Sister Ingrid also suspects the lady has had a few small minor strokes, and tells the family she will arrange for the HospiceWits doctor to do a home visit. One of her sons arrives before we leave, and the siblings seem so grateful and relieved that HospiceWits will visit frequently and advise on the best treatment for their much-loved mother.”

What patients’ families say

“You welcomed our father and family into your fold. We were treated with respect and a quiet dignity. There really are angels amongst us, we salute and applaud you. ”

“To the wonderful staff at HospiceWits, thank you for treating my mother so gently and with dignity, as a person rather than just a patient. Dr Craig’s time with us as a family to explain everything was invaluable, and helped us to feel at peace, knowing she was getting the best possible care and was not going to be in pain. We had not had such care from any doctor in the week prior, and I can only be thankful that Mom’s final care was so good. We felt so supported and welcomed by the entire team.”

“The assistance that HospiceWits rendered, both at Dad’s home and in your In-Patient Unit, was absolutely exceptional. I cannot thank you enough for all your support, care and kindness. Your staff was magnificent.”

“We would like to express our thanks and gratitude for all the love, care and support that you gave to her. The magnitude of gratitude that we feel cannot be explained. You gave her the quality of life with the dignity and independence that she was determined to have. You gave her children the ability to have the very best of their mother for as long as possible. We all feel truly blessed that you were chosen to travel this journey with us, and we know just how much that meant to her – she truly loved you. Thank you, Dr Craig, for your attendance, endless support and forever availability to care for her and help make her as comfortable and pain-free as possible.”