Catching up with Sonja van der Dussen of Centurion Hospice

Categories: Care.

The HPCA of South Africa was founded in 1987 as a membership organisation for South African Hospices, primarily – to share best practices amongst hospices, and to support the development of a positive hospice care movement in South Africa that is effective in providing supportive care to communities in need. Palliative care is available to all persons diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and gives people the opportunity to discuss their fears and anxieties about the end of their lives.

The palliative care team at Centurion Hospice consists of professional nurses, social workers, and medical practitioners that can help allay unrealistic fears, and will work with the person to control problems that may be realistic fears, such as pain and symptom control. Palliative care includes bereavement services, as well as AIDS/HIV and TB counselling.

We had the privilege of having a chat with Sonja van der Dussen, Acting Nursing Team leader at the hospice. She shared with us her journey and how she came about the hospice. Sonja worked in a hospital setting for 10 years and then stopped working due to family responsibility after having her first child.

Through an Agency she then got referred to work at Centurion Hospice. She then went on a Palliative care short course to get an understanding of the discipline. Her main role is to see 15-25 patients, going from home to home doing home based care, giving advice as well around symptom control and in general holistic care.

Concept of Palliative Care

“We get referrals, and then explain to the patients our role, we then try to see them and explain the symptoms and we are trained to assist with different symptoms for pain and medication. First assessment we sit with family and then explain if weekly or monthly visits are needed for the patient,”

We have a team to work with all aspects and weekly we have a meeting to discuss our patients and give advice where we can. The success of hospice is that we are not about death and dying, we are about living and the quality of life. We need to get the patients at the moment of diagnosis, because currently we get patients when they are referred too late and there is not much intervention that can occur.” Sonja added.

Once we bridge this gap, the understanding, impact and perception of hospice will change for the better!

Being a Public Benefit Organisation, Centurion Hospice is required to conduct its activities in a non-profit manner and with noble or benevolent intent.  Registration with the NPO Directorate of the Department of Welfare safeguards standards of governance, and increase accountability and transparency to lift public and donor confidence. Find out more here.


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