Children’s palliative care unit opens at Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital in Cape Town

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A new Paediatric Palliative Care Unit was opened within the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital in Cape Town on Wednesday 11 June 2014.

The Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital is classified by the Western Cape Health Department as a intermediate care facility which focuses on providing post acute, restorative and palliative care.

The 10-bed paediatric palliative care unit was made possible through the generous support of the Children’s Hospital Trust, the Harry Crossly Foundation, Rotary and the Afrika family.

The unit aims to care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses that require:

  • Pain and symptom control
  • Psycho-social support
  • Respite care
  • Advanced care planning
  • Family support
  • End of life and terminal care
  • Bereavement support

The unit provides 24/7 nursing care and is led by a palliative care trained nurse with input from a multi-disciplinary team that includes a paediatric palliative care consultant, medical officer, social worker, occupational therapist, bereavement councillor and other professional volunteers including massage, art and music therapists.

Dr Michelle Meiring, who was instrumental in setting up the unit, highlighted the importance of managing pain and relief from distressing symptoms in the provision of quality palliative care. She stressed that non-drug measures, including the provision of occupational, art, music and aroma-therapies, contributed significantly to the overall well-being of the affected child.

Chantal Cooper, Head of Fundraising at the Children’s Hospital Trust, said, “Seeing a “completely at peace” mum, spending quality, one-on-one time with her child at the unit made a huge impact on me, and I could see for myself the importance of quality palliative care for both the affected child and their families.”

A visiting Intensive Care Unit (ICU) consultant noted how much happier and calm the patients looked compared to when they were in ICU. She personally felt that healthcare professionals sometimes failed in providing appropriate quality care in the ICU, where is was often noisy and stressful. She also noted how families could benefit from the privacy that they unit offered.

Dr Michelle Meiring told those present that the World Health Assembly (WHA ) had recently passed a landmark resolution calling on member states to integrate palliative care into government health departments. “The integration of this paediatric palliative care unit into the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital is an example of how government could integrate palliative care into their health care services, using a public-private partnership,” she added.

Please feel free to contact the unit manager, Sister Alex Daniels at should you require any additional information about the Paediatric Palliative Care Unit at the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital.

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