In the spotlight: Petronella Nel

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

The 46-year-old Dunnottar resident is passionate about helping people.

Hospice East Rand offers palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses and is committed to ensuring these patients and their families are not alone when additional care is needed.

While based in Benoni, the non-profit organisation (NPO) provides services across the East Rand area.

Sister Petronella ‘Nellie’ Nel covers the Brakpan, Springs and Heidelberg areas.

• What sparked your interest in this field?

I have a natural instinct for helping people and am living out my passion.

• For how long have you worked for Hospice East Rand?

I have worked at Hospice East Rand since April 2019.

• Tell us about your day-to-day duties?

I provide home-based nursing care at the houses of patients where they are in their own familiar surroundings.
I monitor vital signs, pain and symptom control under supervision of our highly educated Hospice East Rand doctor.

I provide health education, equipping patients and their loved ones with information, understanding the specific illness and emotional support.

• What do you like most about your job? Why?

Providing help and support to patients and their families.

It warms my heart and motivates me, especially seeing the appreciation from my patients and their families.

• There are many misconceptions about hospice and palliative care (it’s just for cancer patients, it’s a place where people go to die, etc). What do you say to people who still hold these beliefs?

So in the old days people linked Hospice and palliative care with cancer and a place for a last piece of hope, that is the misconception.

In fact, any person who has a life-limiting illness such as cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s, dementia or HIV/Aids and requires pain and symptom control can register with Hospice following a referral letter and medical report from their doctor which is mandatory.

• How has lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic affected your work?

It has made it very difficult to render my professional duties because we have to wear protective clothing and equipment which makes our patients and their families a little scared.

Also in the beginning of lockdown, we couldn’t visit all categories of patients because we had to reduce the risk of infection so we had to rely on telephonic contact which felt distant.

When lockdown eased a little and visits were permitted to all categories of patients I could see a change in their happiness.

Visiting them does give them a sense of “now I’m cared for”.

• Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Nature and gardening.

• What motivates you?

Hospice to me as an individual is not just a job.

It’s my passion to go the extra mile and to actually listen to the concerns of patients and families.

While I walk my miles, I see the appreciation in my patients and their families and what it means to them.

I can’t take the illness away but it means a lot to them knowing they are not alone in their journey.

• What advice would you give to people wanting to work in this field?

If you are passionate about helping people you will enjoy your journey.

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