Following the deadly outbreak, the hospice has found itself at the front line of the response: “Initially we shied away from Ebola, but now Ebola has come to us and we have to do something,” said Gabriel Madiye, the Hospice Director.
The hospice urgently needs funding, training, equipment and support to keep their communities, their families and themselves safe. Health centres are closed, stigma, myths and fear are rife, and families are forced to care for the sick at home, fuelling the spread of the disease.
Staff and over 500 volunteers have been working in affected communities, without training, protection or equipment and despite the risks to their own health, they continue their palliative and supportive care work and health education.
The appeal, which can be found online, is aiming to raise £50,000.
David Praill, Chair of the WHPCA, has written personally to ask the palliative care community for their support: “The current situation in Sierra Leone has, for the first time, prompted The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance to launch this appeal.
“This is simply about supporting the local hospice (there is only one in the country) and their staff. They work mostly in the community and are at the front line of providing care and support to a very nervous population. You may have heard in the news about the limited numbers of health workers and how they are losing key frontline staff… the bravery of those continuing to attempt to meet the needs of others is remarkable.
“Fifty thousand pounds will only be a small drop in the ocean – but it could make all the difference to supporting and even saving lives of hospice community staff.
The money raised will enable staff to:
- Provide prevention education and psychosocial support to hundreds of families
- Provide care to those affected
- Get the protection and training they need to continue to care for people with life-limiting conditions in the communities.
Kate North, international programmes manager at Hospice UK, added: “Integrating palliative care skills into the response will help to reach out to families with information and education on Ebola and how to protect themselves. The staff and volunteers of Shepherd’s Hospice are known and trusted in the community, palliative care teams are used to dealing with and addressing community stigma and fear and palliative care teams can support families through loss, bereavement and grief.
“They also provide a key inroad into the communities, and could be a first point of detection, and referral for testing and treatment. They could share information and educate families on how to prevent infection. They could distribute protection kits and sanitation kits to at risk families. They could alert the District Health Medical Teams to cases, so that patients can be taken to emergency care centres, houses disinfected and support given for safe burial.
“But to do this they urgently need training, equipment and supplies.”
At least 95p in every pound raised will go directly to support the project in Sierra Leone. For more information, contact: Claire Morris, WHPCA global advocacy director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Access the appeal online.