The importance of a Social Worker

Categories: People & Places.

Background

Fransil Kotze graduated at the University of Stellenbosch in 1992 and shortly after that started working as a social worker in the field, for the Child Welfare Organisation in 1993, and continued as a field social worker for 10 years. The experience she gained and the scope of practice included in particular child care, foster care, and rehabilitation of alcoholism as well as attending to the needs of the elderly in old age homes in the community.

She then stayed at home for 9 years, and following that, in 2012 started her journey at Overstrand hospice.

Journey at Overstrand

For her, working at Overstrand hospice has been extremely rewarding. She remarks on it as finding her “calling”. She was always a passionate worker, however for her working more in depth with Palliative care, proved to be a perfect fit. “I know this is my passion, and this is where I want to be” added Franzil.

She is often asked by many people how she copes with the job that she does or how she can work with “death and dying”, but for her it’s so much more than just working with “death and dying”, it’s about firstly learning how to personally cope with death and accepting that it will happen to all of us one day, and secondly making people aware that palliative care does not only involve death and dying and that it is very much a strong advocate for quality of life, and living longer.

Emphasis on looking after yourself during all stages of life

Everyone puts a lot of emphasis on birth, planning 9 months for the birth of your child, putting measures in place and putting a lot of effort into the whole process of getting ready for this new life with a many social actions around it.

“However no one talks about death and dying and the processes involved” which also involve a lot of planning and at times take such a back foot, which is something Franzil personally does not agree with.

How we work at Overstrand hospice

The area in which we work in is from Pearly beach through to Pringle Bay, so that basically covers the whole area in the Overstrand municipal area. Overstrand Hospice works amongst all levels of the community and we serve all the areas. For Fransil, it does not matter how rich you are, how big your house is or what you might have in your possession, when it comes to an illness we all have to come to a bed that is similar in size, we should all remain humble.

Fransil’s typical day

Her hours are typical office hours (Monday – Friday), starting with the big areas (Hermanus) and then in Gaansbaai, they have a IDT (Interdisciplinary team meeting) once a month that would be a satellite group of volunteers and then once a month that key group of people have a meeting.

Fransil is able to see all of the patients on Overstrand’s list, which she remarks being very special and something she really enjoys and embraces because she feels not all hospices involve the social workers as much as Overstand involves her.  I look at what sort of support the patients need, do they need a companion, who are all trained with the HPCA volunteer material course as well as the bereavement course. I then link the “companion” with the patient and discuss with them the walk that they need do with the patient, and then I will connect the same companion on bereavement levels so that there is a level of consistency with who the patient and the family deal with.  

Challenges one faces at times with patients

Personally Fransil feels that the most challenging aspect of dealing with patients is ironically not the patient but rather the family dynamics. The dynamics of the wife, the children, and the spouse who maybe are not in full acceptance of what is going on in their loved one’s life. However, it’s normal because not everyone is on the same page when it comes to acceptance of the patient’s illness.

Highlights for Fransil working at Hospice

Fransil loves the team approach at Overstrand hospice, and the support that she receives from them. “There is never a time when any of us are left feeling vulnerable, it is always addressed and we are able to speak about everything.” Besides that, she loves the fact that she has the power to do better for others and for the community and for her that is the main highlight.

 Find out more about Overstrand Hospice here.