Hospice East Rand is there to support patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families to accept an honest journey around death.
“We remind families and patients that they are not alone on this journey and offer palliative care to them,” said Jonquil Siepman, marketing and media liaison for Hospice East Rand.
South African Hospice programmes provide palliative care for patients with advanced, progressive diseases such as cancer and HIV/Aids.
Control of pain and other symptoms, psychological, social and spiritual concerns are paramount.
The goal of palliative care is the achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families.
Hospice East Rand provides their service to the Ekurhuleni area which includes Brakpan, Germiston, Bedfordview, Benoni, Boksburg, Daveyton, Edenvale, Heidelberg, Kempton Park, Nigel, Springs and Vosloorus.
“Our focus is on home-based care which extends into the bereavement period.
“When a patient is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, is aware of the diagnosis, and both the patient and their family are seeking help they can contact Hospice East Rand,” said Jonquil.
Two of the “angels” from Hospice East Rand who dedicate their lives to assisting patients and families are Sister Ellen Ngcobo and social worker Busi Ntondini.
Ellen has been working in the Germiston and Boksburg areas since December, last year and Busi has been a social worker for the whole of the Ekurhuleni area since 2016.
Sister Ellen Ngcobo: Leondale resident Ellen grew up in Soweto and moved to Leondale in 1992.
She worked as a sister in the labour ward of Germiston Hospital (now Bertha Gxowa Hospital) and enjoyed bringing life into the world immensely.
In 1998 she moved to Cansa and worked there until 2009, where she was involved in early and preventable healthcare.
She was, unfortunately, in a car accident and this led to her staying at home to recover for some length of time.
Once she recovered Ellen went to work at Allan Woodrow Frail Care Centre in Boksburg.
“I wanted to start helping the elderly,” she said.
“As you age, you move in your career and you relate to different people, so I knew as I was getting older I could relate to older people.”
She joined Hospice East Rand in December, last year and is enjoying the job.
Ellen is married to Jethro Pooe and the couple has two children, Nomonde, who lives in New York, and Mbali, who stays in Pretoria.
“When you see yourself making a difference in people’s lives and they acknowledge and appreciate you bringing value into their lives it makes it worthwhile,” Ellen said.
Ellen offers home-based palliative care to her patients. She is given potential patients names from the intake office at Hospice East Rand and then calls them to make an appointment to go and see them.
“When you get to the person’s home you introduce yourself and the services of Hospice East Rand,” Ellen said.
“You explain to the patient and the family that you are there to help and find out what their area of interest is.
“You must then assess the environment and start managing the patient based of your assessment.”
Ellen added that she must educate both the family and the patient and find out who all the stakeholders are and who gives the patient primary care.
“Visits are then based on the needs of the patient.
“These could be daily, weekly or bi-weekly,” Ellen said.
“I am very hands-on and every patient and family is treated differently as they are different.”
Ellen said both the nurses and social workers are trained to manage emotions, but you do become attached to your patients and their families.
Hospice East Rand does provide its staff with debriefing sessions.
“You must be called for the job,” Ellen said.
“There is a stigma attached to life-limiting illness and sometimes people are scared to come to us in the earlier stages.
“By partnering with us we will help you get the best out of your situation and we help you through the suffering.
“Everyone reacts to death differently, but we can be there to assist you.”
When Ellen is not helping her patients, she enjoys music and church activities.Her husband, Jethro, is a pastor at the Holy Jerusalem Church of Repentance in Soweto.
Ellen loves to sing in church.
Ellen works five days a week, but is always available to her patients if they need her.
She cares for between 20 and 25 patients at a time to keep her caseload manageable.
Busi Ntondini: Busi, who lives in Petit, Benoni, originally hails from the Eastern Cape.
She left her home town in 2014 to move to Gauteng and lived in the South of Johannesburg, before becoming a Benoni resident in 2015.
As a trained social worker Busi worked for the Department of Justice in the family advocate’s office working with children in divorce cases.
When she left the Eastern Cape she transferred to the family advocate’s office in Johannesburg.
Although she enjoyed helping the children she decided she wanted to do volunteer work.
She saw an advertisement for a social worker for Hospice East Rand and decided that if the interview did not go well she would still volunteer her services to the organisation.
“I was only using about five per cent of my professional expertise at the family advocate’s office and I wanted to use all my skills somewhere,” Busi said.
“I noticed that emotions have a huge impact on the medical side of people’s lives and believe that comprehensive management as one entity is vital.”
When a patient and family are referred to Busi she calls the family and sets up an appointment with them.
“I discuss coping skills and empower them,?”she said.
“I find out what the support system is and how they view their support system and pick up on the emotions they are going through and help them through the stages of loss.
“If a patient is bedridden, I empower the patient to do something.
“They are still part of the family and the world and they are not useless.
“There are so many things they can do to reach others.
“I try and teach them to live with their disease in a calm way.”
Busi added that she also educates the family as both the patient and the family have a lot of emotions going on inside.
“There is a roller coaster of emotions going on coming to terms with the illness and the reality of the issue.
“Sometimes it is more of an emotional issue than a medical one, as a person is socially, culturally and spiritually affected.
“Families can be clouded by emotions and people are actually grieving twice, once when they have the diagnosis and then when the patient dies,”she said.
She added that grief is a very complicated issue and she offers grief counselling sessions.
Busi works throughout Ekurhuleni and said her most challenging part of the metro to work in is the informal settlements.
When she is not hard at work being dedicated to her patients and their families she enjoys spending time with her husband Kwanda and their children, Naledi (27), Karabo (21), Lerato (19) and Lesedi (12).
“I love to cook for them and I like making dates with my husband and children to spend quality time with them,”Busi said.