Jacolize Smit, 58 years old was born in a small town, Bonnievale. As the Home Based Care coordinator for Boland Hospice, she expresses how passionate she is about the work she does. Working closely with her 28 carers, Jacolize goes to great extent to ensure patients receives the best possible care and at the same time ensures that her carers are well looked after too. “The conditions at times are very challenging for our carers as they travel by foot in the most dangerous and unfavourable weather conditions. Without them we cannot provide the necessary care for our patient’s”. She added.
Our first priority patients are Cancer patients, however we do make an exception for patients living with other illnesses such as TB, HIV etc. Once I receive a patient referral from a clinic or hospital, I immediately do an assessment and decide what to do from there. Most patients are cared for at their home and I try to do at least one visit per week. Other patients who live much further away will receive a phone call just to check up on them, with a visit every 2nd week.
“I love my job!” Working in poor communities and seeing the conditions people live in really saddens me. There is so much more I wish I could do to help improve their conditions. One day while I was driving to one of my patients, I saw a lady walking down the side of the road. She was on her way home from the local clinic in the community and because it was quite a far distance to go, I offered to help. I stopped and noticed her face was full of sores and blisters and she had packet of tablets in her hand. I then asked her what was wrong with her and she responded by saying: “I don’t know – they didn’t tell me anything. All they said was take these tablets”. When I opened the packet, it was ARV’s – she was HIV Positive and never knew it. Here was a lady, uneducated, helpless not knowing what to do and I wasn’t prepared to leave her there. I immediately took her to another clinic where they educated her and 4 months later she gained 4kg and is looking much healthier. If I didn’t stop at that moment, what would have happened to her?
Stigma is a big concern in these communities. When people see the hospice car pull up, they immediately jump to conclusions that someone is dying. I do hope that people will start looking out for each other and show compassion.