Meet Elizabeth : Dynamic CEO of Drakenstein Palliative Hospice

Categories: People & Places.

In our interview, she explain to us her views around palliative care, the amazing hospice that she runs and a deeper insight into the Butterfly House – a concept that has been adopted and run very successfully by this hospice.

Elizabeth explained that there are basically two big programmes that are being run at her hospice – the first providing palliative care at the patients’ homes than anywhere else and secondly she described the very successful resource centres (3 of them), which provide holistic care, allowing patients to come to them for assistance and touching on the psychosocial aspect of palliative care.

Another difference in how Drakenstein is run, is  the fact that they don’t have a nursing sister heading the interdisciplinary team, but rather a social worker.  Why is that you may ask? Well, a social worker is trained generically and holistically which correlates with the definition of palliative care, including the impeccable assessment of physical, psycho-social, spiritual and cultural needs. The nurse’s primary focus is to assess and address the physical pain and symptoms of a patient. 

By applying such a concept, Elizabeth has implemented a great balance within Drakenstein hospice regarding the psychosocial and physical aspects of Palliative care.

Views around Palliative care

Elizabeth is an extremely strong advocate for Palliative care as she feels it is a human right. She feels that the importance of hospice needs to be brought to the attention of relevant influential people because in essence what they do is to keep patients out of hospitals by providing palliative care in their homes. Hospices are saving the Department of Health money and bed space which is an important factor to take out of the essence of what hospice and palliative care is about.

She went on further to explain that on average they have twenty patients who pass on every month, so in total for the year that’s 240 patients that Drakenstein hospice have kept out of hospitals; patients who would have been dying in hospitals; By doing that they are allowing many patients to die with dignity in their homes.

Elizabeth has a strong passion and love for children and she has always had a bit of a concern that there are hospices who say they don’t cater for children – because the definition of palliative care does not say it is only for adults. Her passion for children is shown in an amazing concept run by this hospice called the Butterfly House.

Butterfly House

The Butterfly House explained by Petro Gordon and further explained by Elizabeth, is a school in the heart of poverty-stricken Paarl East, assisting children and patients with social, developmental and educational skills – with programmes running in the morning and afternoon for children from the ages of 2 years old all the way to 19 years old.

 At the Butterfly House there are specific containers for children that have been established and equipped for them to practise their reading and writing skills.  It is especially for community members whose children cannot afford to go to schools to get this type of service.

Included in the Butterfly House are bathrooms and showers which have been built for the children who don’t have this type of set-up in their homes, so that when they come they can be kept clean. These facilities are solar powered as well.

Many activities take place in the three different resource centres during the week and Elizabeth explained that they are always packed with pupils willing to learn various life skills during the day.

Elizabeth, with the help of a fantastic team, has created a concept that has helped benefit the community of Paarl East tremendously, we salute her for the positive impact she has had on so many people’s lives!

If you would like to know more about Drakenstein Palliative Hospice or the Butterfly House, email: elizabeth@drakensteinhospice.org.za