Pearl Mphuthi, FNB Fund manager says, “The issues around the misperceptions of Hospices and its services are complex. They are based in part on historical events, past barriers to needed palliative care for patients and their families, and misconceptions that exist with individuals.”
Priscilla Nelson, CEO of St. Luke’s Hospice in Cape Town says that she still encounters many people who think that Hospice is a place where people go to die when doctors are unable to anything more for them.
“Words influence perceptions. Perceptions influence responses. And this goes both ways, so we try to have a holistic approach. We don’t only treat the patient, we try to enable the family to cope with their current situation, and offer support services if families request them. We’ve seen a change, in how patients and their families respond in discussions, for the better,” says Nelson.
St. Luke’s Hospice has also gone out of its way to make physical changes to the property to help visitors have a positive experience.
“First impressions last, and we’ve worked very hard to make the hospice experience a positive one, so if you walk around our buildings, you’ll see lots of bright, beautiful paintings, fresh flowers and very friendly staff,” adds Nelson.
According to Nelson, patients and their families can enjoy the fresh air and can listen to the birds sing and not too far from their beautiful and peaceful garden is a quiet room where anyone can sit, pray or reflect.
“Hospice is not a place, but a philosophy, of care. It is a special kind of caring for patients and their loved ones that includes the control of pain and other symptoms. We also help the patient and their family with any emotional, social and spiritual problems. If there is one word that I could use to describe hospice, it would definitely be “passion”. Never have I seen people so passionate about what they do. In time we will help to change the negative perceptions attached to hospices,” concludes Nelson.