Hospice Bloemfontein expands to meet growing demand for services

Categories: Care and People & Places.

Report by Hanneke Lubbe, General Manager at Hospice Bloemfontein

Hospice Bloemfontein alleviates the suffering of patients and their families throughout the Bloemfontein community by treating symptoms and pain at the end of life, as well as providing support through counselling, education, practical advice, referrals to appropriate resources. We have a team of professionals that give their time to help reduce pain and support families. We can accommodate and care for more patients in the community by extending our services, including home-based care and admissions to our unit. We collaborate closely with the Palliative Care Group in the state hospitals including Universitas annex, National and Pelenomi hospitals, and follow up on referrals received from them.

Our history

Hospice Bloemfontein was established in 2017 by Sr. Joan Marston and Hanneke Lubbe in response to the city’s need to provide care to patients suffering from life-threatening conditions such as advanced cancer, end-stage organ failure, or neurological ailments such as motor neuron disease.  At the time, there were two other hospices in the Mangaung area: the Naledi Hospice, which cared for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients, and the Naledi Centre of Hope in Turflaagte, which cared for HIV/AIDS patients or those who had suffered a stroke. What started as a small group of volunteers in 2017 who only visited patients at their homes, has since grown into a strong organization with a group of trained palliative care professional working as an inter-disciplinary team. This team consists of:

  • A Specialist Palliative care physician
  • 5 Palliative care nurses (full- and part time)
  • Palliative care counsellor (and manager)
  • Ad Hoc occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social worker.
  • Trained volunteers.

The need to expand our services

Three years ago, we inaugurated our In-Patient Unit at Siesta Retirement Home, which began with using two bedrooms within the home. Siesta was a great choice because the rent we paid for the rooms included amenities such as carers, laundry, food, and housekeeping. Because Hospice Bloemfontein couldn’t keep up with referrals from both the private and public sectors, we expanded our services last year by adding two additional rooms and another three bedrooms this year, making a total of seven rooms. At the same time, our home-based patients, which make up approximately 90% of our patients, also increased.

Our current challenge is how to meet the growing demand for palliative care services in the larger Bloemfontein area and parts of the Free State? To achieve this, expansion is imperative. This expansion requires additional resources, including in-patient rooms at Siesta to accommodate more patients and staff. Moreover, realising the future plans of the hospice necessitates suitable space. This encompasses areas for day clinics, support groups, formal training sessions, and other essential services.

In essence, Hospice requires space to facilitate both its current services and its vision for the future, and Siesta presents an opportunity to fulfil this need.

Why Siesta Retirement Home?

Hospice Bloemfontein has strategically established its In-Patient Unit within one wing of Siesta Retirement Home. However, with Siesta facing longstanding financial challenges, and given Hospice Bloemfontein’s significant investment in the in-patient unit, the decision to take over Siesta was deemed the most viable solution. This move not only secures the future of Hospice Bloemfontein but also underscores its commitment to providing essential palliative care services to those in need.

The overarching plan involves transforming the entire complex into an Advanced and Palliative Care Centre, offering a comprehensive array of services including frail care, hospice, and palliative care. Additionally, the envisioned centre will feature Day Clinics tailored for both Palliative Care patients and their families, as well as geriatric residents and their families. These clinics will provide specialized support facilitated by various therapists, such as occupational and physiotherapists, alongside activities like music therapy, craft groups, and informative talks. This model will also be replicated at the VGK Heatherdale Church in Heidedal.

While the merger presents significant financial challenges and risks, stakeholders are confident in the carefully considered decision. To address the current monthly deficit in Siesta, Hospice will focus on expanding the in-patient unit and continuing to contribute rent to Siesta, ensuring funds are allocated towards expenses, debts, and essential renovations.

What the future can look like:

To illustrate the potential of the building, here are some before and after photos of the Hospice Bloemfontein’s In-Patient Unit where patients can spend their last days in dignity and comfort.  There is so much potential and beauty hidden in the old – we just need to discover it and bring it to the surface again.

A before and after image of how the outdoor spaces have been improved at Siesta by Hospice Bloemfontein



On the left is one of the rooms at Siesta before being repurposed for hospice use, and the image on the right shows how it looks now.




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