WATCH: Stepping Stone offers a place of care and dignity for those in pain

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Stepping Stone Hospice has helped terminally ill patients and their families deal with pain since 2013.

They have finally found a place they can call home but the process of acquiring the property has been slowed down due to objections that have resulted in a legal process. Stepping Stone Hospice was founded on January 1, 2013. Ever since it has provided an invaluable service both to terminal patients and their family to provide them with dignity in the final days of their life.

Built on a final request

Tersia Burger, the CEO and founder of Stepping Stone Hospice, built the Hospice on the dying wish of her daughter.

Her daughter, Vicky, was born with a rare degenerative bone and muscle disease with no cure. The effects of the disease led to extreme pain for her that for a long time went unanswered.

Around 2012 Vicky was introduced to Hospice care which changed her quality of life for the better. On November 16, 2012, Vicky asked her mother to make her a promise.

“Promise me that you will start a Hospice so that no one will have to suffer pain as I have,” said Tersia as she recounted her daughter’s words.

On the first day of the next year, Stepping Stone was founded from Tersia’s home.

“Vicky was our first patient but also our first death on January 18,” said Tersia.

Bringing dignity to patients

“There is no dignity in pain,” said Tersia.

These words guide the palliative care that Stepping Stone provides. They aim to make the life of terminal patients as comfortable and dignified as possible.

The need for care like this becomes more and more needed as specialised care to control worsening symptoms becomes a priority.

“While we are unable to cure our patients we can help them be comfortable and enjoy their days to the fullest.”

Stepping Stone not only cares for in-patients but their trained nurses answer calls in the community to provide care to patients in their homes. All patients treated by Hospice are referred to them by the doctors treating the conditions of the patients.

Hospice care is highly structured and supervised. Stepping Stone is supervised by both the Health Department and Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa. They strictly adhere to the regulations put forward by these bodies to ensure the safety and professional care of their patients.

Hospice care at Stepping Stone extends not only to the needs of their patients but the mental, emotional and spiritual care of their families as they come to terms with their loved one’s condition.

Dedicated counsellors are part of the Stepping Stone team helping both the patients and their families deal with the emotional pain connected to the situation.

“Pain can take many forms. Emotional, mental and spiritual can be just as debilitating,” said Tersia.

“Hospice care is holistic in nature. We help our patients wherever they need to be helped.”

The road forward

Stepping Stone Hospice rents its facilities from Amcare. It is the dream of Stepping Stone to have a home to call their own.

To facilitate this they have a dedicated building fund with generous donations towards this aim. This includes an incredibly generous bequest of R4.5-million that together has enabled them to purchase a new location.

“We found the perfect location in Alberante and made an offer that was accepted,” said Tersia.

The offer was accepted with the condition that Stepping Stone receives the necessary permission to operate at the new location.

The process to do so has, however, not been easy with neighbours objecting to the Hospice being opened next to them. According to Tersia, this has slowed the process down immensely due to the legal processes that need to be taken regarding the permissions required.

Stepping Stone wants to ensure everyone that the money for the building is safe and secure and will be used exclusively to acquire new premises.

As an NPO their financial sheets are available to peruse and they welcome those with concerns to do that.

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