Drakenstein Palliative Hospice Nursing and Care Team


1. What is your name?

Drakenstein Palliative Hospice Nursing and Care Team

2. What do you do there?

Provide quality Palliative care to patients.

3. How long have you been there?

We are turning 30 in May 2021.


1. Why did you decide to focus on palliative care?

As a team we feel that this type is care is often overlooked or ignored, when it is a very important part of healthcare. We are able to help people through a very difficult time, for the patient and their families and to be able to be a part of the support system for them is fulfilling.

2. What gives you the greatest fulfilment?

Knowing that what you did for a patient made a difference to them. And knowing that by doing your job, you are helping the patient and making the situation slightly better for their family and that they appreciate what you did for them.

When we can see an improvement in the health and attitude of our patients. We have a few HIV patients, and when we see them taking their medication and then have their health improve, is an amazing feeling of achievement.

We have all experienced over and over that when we do something for someone else, we feel better about ourselves.

3. What do you find the most challenging?

It is emotional when we have child patients, it is difficult watching them and their parents/ siblings go through the experience and knowing we cannot prevent it. Also, if it is a patient who themselves have very young children, because we know that the children are going to have to deal with losing a parent.

It is hard when patients are the same age as the carer or nurse working with them, it makes you look at your own mortality.

If a patient is a friend or family member, it is very hard to control your emotions and process the situation.

As Drakenstein Palliative Hospice, we cover a very large area, which includes rural and informal areas. It is very challenging to get to these patients, due to transport, not having proper directions to their homes and often things like gang shootings and violence in the areas. Often when you do find the house eventually, you have to deal with a variety of dogs to get into the house.

4. What do you think that you personally bring to your job that reflects who you are as a person?

To do this job there are a few “must haves”.

You need to be:

  • Positive
  • Compassionate
  • Direct and honest
  • Approachable and be able to communicate well
  • Able to separate work and home
  • Spontaneous, yet strict
  • Sure about yourself and your job
  • Able to take the lead and make decisions
  • Able to win the trust of patients’ and their families and maintain a good relationship

5. How do you take care of your own health and balance?

Leaving work at work, you can’t take the stress and emotions of work, patients and families home with you. Use our time off to be with our families and friends that we are able to be in normal social situations. Eating healthy (or at least trying), sleeping enough and being able to talk with colleagues and your team about issues with patients and getting their advice and assistance.

6. What is your advice to anyone else wishing to join your profession?

This is not just a job, you need to have a passion for helping people and being there for them. The job is physically, emotionally and mentally hard, but the rewards are worth it.

This is not a job to get rich from, if you just want money this is not for you.

7. What is your advice to anyone given a life-threatening diagnosis?

When you first get your diagnosis, don’t give up hope, take it day by day, there are always new developments and treatments. Also do not listen to other people’s stories, your journey is your own.

Keep a positive mind and attitude.

If treatment does not work and time does start running out… enjoy the good days as much as you can, use the time to make peace, remember the good times and love those around you.

8. What is your advice to the loved ones of anyone who is given a life-threatening diagnosis?

Let the patient be the boss. Support them in getting as much information as they can about treatments, medication, surgeries, whatever they need, but ultimately let them decide what they want to do or not.

Be there for them when they need you, but allow them to still be as independent as they can be.

Try and keep yourself and the patient as positive as possible.

8. How do your loved ones feel about the work that you do?

They are proud that we have chosen such an unselfish career, where we are always there for others.  Sometimes they do get worried about the fact that we are working with ill people and that we experience death so often as this has an emotional toll on us, but they accept and respect that this is the path we have chosen.

During COVID, they were very stressed as we were exposed to lots of people in different circumstances.

9. What do you like the most about the hospice that you work with?

We are a small team, who cover a big area and provide a range of services, so we work very closely together. The team is there for each other and understand and support if someone is having an off day or needs to talk. We try and have fun as much as possible, because we understand that we need to stay positive.

Our Palliative care doctor is very involved and assists us whenever we need her to, so it is reassuring to have that support system.

We respect the individuality of each of our patients and their journey and treat them as an individual and not as their illness.

We have built relationships with clinics, hospitals and other organisation in the area and these relationships help us with our work and them with theirs.

Our staff have been here for a long time and are loyal, this gives the Hospice relief in the knowledge that our staff know their jobs well and are confident in what they do and that they will stay with us going forward.

10. Do you have a “motto” that you tend to live by that you would like to share?

  • Don’t forget where you come from
  • Always keep trying
  • Don’t let what other have done to you, get you down
  • Be your true self everyday
  • Treat everybody with the same respect
  • Perseverance makes you stronger
  • Be professional in all you do