In Zimbabwe, community caregivers have been the backbone to community palliative care ensuring that patients receive physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cultural care.
Some of our community caregivers and their families have been the recipients of care and understand first-hand how palliative care assists families to cope with illness, manage presenting symptoms, prepare for death, and provide bereavement support.
Often their motivation to provide community palliative care stems from the fact that at some stage in their lives they or a family member were bedridden and needed care which was provided by Island Hospice and Healthcare (Island) and existing community caregivers.
Appreciating and acknowledging the work of community caregivers
Island wishes this January to celebrate, appreciate and acknowledge the work of community caregivers as core team members in providing palliative care in the country.
Community caregivers are individuals that have volunteered to make a difference in their community. Island provides them with training and mentorship sessions to enable them to provide care to a high standard.
The key role of the community caregiver is to identify patients in the community, typically with the assistance of the local health clinic.
Once a patient has been registered on the caregiver list, the community caregiver supports them in taking medications, by providing basic counseling and by acting as a link between families and service providers to ensure the continued care of patients and families.
The commonality between families and volunteers is satisfaction in caring for the sick and seeing improvements in managing their problems.
Siriviya Majoni, a forty six year old community caregiver from Mabvuku, shares her story of how she continues to be motivated to provide community palliative care:
“I was very sick to the point that I was declared dead. It was only through the care and support from Island community caregivers, that I am alive. I want everyone in my community needing palliative care to receive the care that I received, that is why I work as a community caregiver. I am motivated to continue despite the fact that there is neither material nor financial benefit, I shall continue to serve patients and their families.”
Another community caregiver, Kerenia Mapeza from Chikwaka, narrates her story:
“My son was diagnosed with cancer and his condition deteriorated until he died. Island nurses and social workers held my hand throughout and also provided bereavement support. I have experienced the benefits of palliative care and I too want to help patients and their families”
Members of the Island palliative care team
Community caregivers with whom we work are members of the Island palliative care team and play an essential role in identifying patients, providing care and making referrals.
Their stories are those of fortitude, compassion and the need to ensure that clients receive the best possible care that enhances quality of life.
Island Hospice and Healthcare values the unwavering contribution of community caregivers to palliative care in Zimbabwe.
Find out more about Island Hospice and Healthcare on their website, follow IslandHospiceZW on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and donate to support their important work via Global Giving: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/island-hospice-and-healthcare/