We cannot change the outcome of an illness, but can change the experience

Categories: People & Places.

When did your journey all start at Msunduzi Hospice?

In 2007 I started my “career” at Msunduzi Hospice working with a community based care (CBC) team visiting  patients at home in the local community. In 2013 I then decided to go into the training field together with patient care which allowed me to do patient care training and management. Before starting at hospice I worked in a general practioners room as a nurse and heard about an opportunity to work at hospice. The nursing experience at hospice was quite different to that of a hospital to an extent that it allowed me to “see the patient in a bigger picture and their families compared to that in a hospital environment.” It does open your eyes to challenges people are faced with especially living with a life-threatening illness.

What is your average day like?

I spend most of my days in the office but occasionally do the first patient assessment with the CBC team. Our typical day starts with a meeting where we able to sit down and plan our day as well as discuss any challenges. It also gives carers the opportunity to collect equipment they need for their patients as well as making the necessary referral follow up calls to hospitals etc. On a Tuesday we have bereavement meetings where we discuss patients who have passed on and the contact we have with their families. On average we attend to at least 6-8 patients a day depending on the amount of time spent with a patient. There are times you would spend 10 minutes or even up to a couple of hours with a patient depending on their condition at the time.

Does bereavement affect staff?

There is always an element of sadness you carry with you when someone dies. Relationships are formed not only with patients but with families too for a short period once their loved ones has passed on. Bereavement does affect us as staff and we use Tuesdays to talk about this and what has happened. It is very important to find a balance to enable carers to talk about their feelings and able to continue their work.

Challenges you are faced with?

One of the biggest challenges we are always faced with is limited resources and the pressure of dealing with a patient’s problem you cannot do anything about. Referrals to health facilities with no feedback is also a huge concern. The extreme temperatures which reaches up to 40°  makes it very hard for our carers to reach their patients as most of them travel on foot .

Highlights of your work?

People often ask if what I do is not the saddest job. I respond to say that yes although it is sad to see people die, in the same time it’s just as rewarding just knowing that you made a difference and that people will say that they couldn’t have done it without hospice.

Have a deeper look inside the workings of Msunduzi Hospice here.