When we hear the word hospice we think about deathbeds. It is true that hospice takes care of people in their final days. People do go there to die and to die in comfort and dignity when they have nowhere else to go, when they are in pain and when all hope of recovering is lost. Hospice do provide physical as well as emotional comfort. Hospice also provides guidance to those who are scared of the passing and death itself, by professional councillors. Afterward there is bereavement counselling for the mourning family.
But that is not where the services of hospice end. There was an Alzheimer sufferer who got hurt when she fell. With no one to look after her, her son, Malan made several phone calls to various different institutions looking for a place that provided affordable frail care, with little success. A neighbour suggested hospice. Malan called and a week later, his mother was admitted to the hospice ward where she stayed for two weeks. The old lady was taken home where her son took care of her while friends and neighbours looked in on her during the day hours when Malan was at work. A few months later she was injured again and was admitted again to hospice, this time staying for three weeks. According to Malan, she could not have had better treatment anywhere. The hospital did not provide a fraction of the treatment that she received at hospice. She is currently with one of the sons and happy to be there.
Hospice provides home care to patients who are not in the ward. Patients who got better, like Daantjie Petersen who was determent to improve his health after a severe stroke, and is now working again; Sophie Wenn, who was afterward admitted to an old-age home, and many others, receive home visits and the necessary treatment and care. This includes bed-wash, feeding, counselling, distribution of donated clothes and food parcels, and more.
Teams of hospice nursing staff go out on a regular basis to monitor blood pressure of elderly people during events like the Golden Games, but also during physical practice sessions for these events. Suggestions and advice is given when there is concern about the fitness of a participant.
These services are imaginably very costly. Hospice receives funding for the services in many different ways. There are the charity shops that sell donated goods that vary from household goods, crockery, cutlery, computers and computer components, even furniture. Clothes range from well-worn to exclusive, once used boutique outfits. All these are sold at extreme bargain prices. Apart from the charity shops, private donations are received, often in cash. A good example of this is a donation made by 401 Rozendal Wine Estate. A Spring Ball event was held at the estate on the 10th September, the second year the event took place. It was decided that the money made from the ticket sales would be donated to a charity. This year, hospice was chosen and a substantial amount was handed over to Marie Wilken, the CEO of Hospice Stellenbosch during the evening.
My story would have ended here if I was not invited to the graduation ceremony of the Bergzicht Training Center where twelve students received their certificates for successfully completing their course in frail care. These students were taken through thorough training, both theoretical and practical. The standard is high and no student could afford to slow down at any given time during their time at the center. Practical training was done at St Joseph’s, Dorothea and, of course hospice. Ready to go out and find a steady job, or even doing voluntary work, these graduates can be employed by hospice and continue the good path they have entered on, advancing in the careers they have chosen while also making lighter the burdens of the dedicated permanent staff of the Stellenbosch Hospice’s Butterfly Ward.
Poet & Writer of Christian Faction, Non-Fiction and Fiction.