Brenda Urwin


1. What is your name?
Brenda Urwin

2. Which hospice do you work for?
Msunduzi Hospice Association

3. What do you do there?
Palliative Care Nurse

4. How long have you been there?
8 Years


1. Why did you decide to focus on palliative care?
I lost my dad and other close family members to Cancer. I felt that I could understand and assist people better with my own personal experience. I think it’s important for people to die with dignity and also to prepare the family emotionally.

2. What gives you the greatest fulfilment?
Seeing people die a “good” death i.e. patients and their families are prepared for the dying process and are peaceful and accepting. Also, helping people to die with dignity regardless of their circumstances.

3. What do you find the most challenging?
Limited resources in caring for families. Lack of palliative care knowledge by most doctors. The emotional side of palliative care – it’s very straining when you care so much.

4. What do you think people find the most challenging about a life-threatening diagnosis?
What to do after the diagnosis – they need someone to listen to their fears and concerns. They need to make informed choices. It’s also facing the reality that their time on earth may be coming to an end.

5. What do you think that you personally bring to your job that reflects who you are as a person?
I like to think that I am kind and caring and treat everyone equally.

6. How do you take care of your own health and balance?
I am not good at self-care, but the beach is my happy place or just being in nature having some time to myself. Listening to music also helps me to relax.

7. What is your advice to anyone else wishing to join your profession?
Palliative care is not your everyday job, it’s a passion. You must be committed to helping others, you must have compassion and patience. It helps you to grow as a person.

8. What is your advice to anyone given a life-threatening diagnosis?
Reach out to a Hospice sooner, rather than later. You are not alone, we are here to help you along your journey, whatever that may be. Don’t be afraid, there’s always hope.

9. What is your advice to the loved ones of anyone who is given a life-threatening diagnosis?
Talk openly to each other. Have those difficult conversations – don’t shut each other out. Allow Hospice to facilitate these discussions, we are here to support you as well as the patient. Don’t assume that you know how the patient feels.

10. How do your loved ones feel about the work that you do?
They are very supportive and admire what I do, but feel that I should be paid more as it’s a specialised field and we don’t get the recognition we deserve by the government.

11. What do you like the most about the hospice that you work with?
The fact that we have an awesome care team, which includes nurses, social workers and memory workers. We have good management at all levels.

12. Do you have a “motto” that you tend to live by that you would like to share?
Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you do this with everyone you meet, you generally treat everyone respectfully and with love.