Hospice and palliative care
Hospice and Palliative Care is the active care of patients with advanced, progressive and incurable disease.
The following is the definition of Palliative Care from the World Health Organization:
Palliative Care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
- Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
- Intends neither hasten nor postpone death;
- Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
- Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
- Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement;
- Uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated;
- Will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness;
- Is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.
Source: National Cancer Control Programmes: Policies and Managerial Guidelines, 2nd Ed. Geneva: WHO, 2002
Selectively quoted from: International Association For Hospice and Palliative Care
We bridge the gap between hospital and home.
We help patients discharged from hospital who cannot help themselves.
We help patients who need care at home and cannot be hospitalised.
Blessed Gérard's Hospice cares for the sick and dying through training, home based care day care and inpatient care.
Hospitals often have no other choice than to discharge patients before they can really look after themselves. The families are often unable to cope with the care of their relatives, because they lack either confidence, skills or facilities.
The Hospice assists patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, who can no longer be helped in hospital e.g. because of a poor prognosis but who also cannot be adequately nursed in their own home.
The objectives of Blessed Gérard's Hospice are
- The provision of health care services to poor and needy persons
- The care or counselling of terminally ill persons or persons with a severe physical or mental disability, and the counselling of their families in this regard
- The provision of preventative and education programmes relating to HIV/AIDS
- The care, counselling or treatment of persons afflicted with HIV/AIDS, including the care or counselling of their families and dependants in this regard
- The provision of primary health care education.
Sister Mbatha, who has been working for more than two years now at Blessed Gérard’s Care Centre, gave an interview to a German volunteer.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is that it enables me to prevent diseases by educating the community, by educating the patients how to take their medicine, how to cope with the side effects and what to do when they are feeling lonely. It is very interesting to help patients with their different problems.
What are the biggest challenges in your job?
One of the biggest challenges for me is to nurse a dying child, to see this young small body fighting for its life. There is never a routine in that. I find it also very difficult to cope with a patient who is in a state of denial. Nothing you teach him about his condition and how to cope with it sinks into his mind. He refuses to take medicine or to see the doctor regularly and he does not understand that he puts his life into danger.
Why do you think that young men and women should become nurses?
Young people should join us because we nurses are warriors. We fight diseases. We fight for our patients’ life. Many people become still infected with AIDS that means we nurses are not enough; we need young men and women with new energy and strategies to help us fighting HIV and AIDS.