Helderberg Hospice are Palliative Care Specialists (Palliative Care is a holistic method of improving the quality of life of a patient, and their loved ones, who are directly affected by a life-threatening illness.)
Our services are available to patients at home as well as through a specialised, short-term admission 24-Hour Support Centre. The unit offers the highest quality of specialised Palliative Care nursing, and is used primarily as a back-up for the Home Care service.
High quality medical care is provided day and night by our professionally trained and qualified Palliative nursing sisters, and their team of trained auxiliary nurses. The 24-Hour Support Centre staff form part of our interdisciplinary team, which includes doctors, social workers, volunteers and management all specialists experienced in Palliative Care.
Patients are admitted for pain control and symptom management as well as respite and terminal care. Over 50% of the patients admitted leave us to go home to their families, and their care continues through our Home Care sisters. The 24-Hour Support Centre can accommodate patients for up to two weeks, and we liaise closely with the patient’s doctor during this time. The facilities consist of one and two bed comfortable rooms, most of which have easy access to a beautiful, large communal garden. The aim of the unit is to provide excellent care but also to make the patients and their families feel at home, and supported throughout this difficult period.
The ability to contribute to the cost of the high quality medical care is not a decisive factor in determining admission to this specialised 24-hour facility, which is why we rely heavily on volunteers, donations of goods, and monetary contributions. We would like to give you some insight into this remarkable unit, by describing it through the eyes of one of our staff…
“I am a highly qualified and experienced Nursing Sister at the Support Centre at Helderberg Hospice. The work I do can be overwhelming, extremely challenging and emotionally draining. Each and every day, we need to have, not only commitment, knowledge and skill, but also to be able to draw on our own personal strengths in order to be able to provide the holistic, loving care our patients need. Each patient is unique, each dealing with their own vulnerability, despair, fear and often even anger. They come packaged with their loved ones – families, friends, and colleagues – each also dealing with feelings of grief, anxiety and dread. We, as carers, need to assess and approach each patient and their situation sensitively, recognising and respecting each individual’s diverse perspective, culture, background, and character.
On a practical level, we work 12 hour shifts at a time – two days on, two days off. The day requires the administration of medicines at prescribed times, conferring with the doctors, answering questions (from patients to families to general public who phone in for advice), and the daily planning for each patient – from food requirements to washing to routine nursing care. It also includes paperwork as every detail throughout the day is recorded in order to give a comprehensive handover at the end of the shift, and thus keep a continual Care Plan in place for each patient.
Being a nurse isn’t about grades, it’s about being who we are. No book can teach you how to tell a family that their loved-one is dying. No professor can teach you how to find the dignity in giving someone a bed-bath. A nurse is not about pills or charts, it’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest and worst. At the end of the day we are privileged to be able to serve our patients and our community at a time when they need our loving care the most.”