Ashleigh Smith’s experience with Knysna Sedgefield Hospice

Ashleigh’s background is that she qualified as a preschool teacher and worked as a preschool teacher, in the process owning two schools, after that she moved to Knysna and came to work for hospice.

Her knowledge of hospice was very vague when she started working here, she started off as the secretary in December 2014 and filled the position for a year and a half. During this time as secretary Ashleigh managed to get to know the community really well, especially their needs because she was the first person who would make contact with them over the phone, and in the process her knowledge improved a lot.

All about passion

The people who work at Knysna Sedgefield Hospice are here for a reason, and it’s normally during a phase of their lives that they needed to experience it, either for change or to find their passion. Passion is something well received and well-practised at Knysna Sedgefield Hospice, it comes with the territory, Ashleigh said, and you have to be passionate about what you do or else you will be wasting your time.

Ashleigh remarks on how everyone that you come across at Knsyna Sedgefield Hospice speaks about what a life-changing experience it has been for them, being able to make a difference in someone’s life, bringing passion back into their work, and not necessarily sitting behind a desk or making money for a corporate business. “There is always a face behind what we do” she added.

Touching lives through “Hearts for Hospice”

At Knysna Hospice, we really make sure our patients are put first. We make sure that their medical needs are cared for, and also stress that their psychological needs should be met. Patients need to feel loved, wanted, appreciated and at times it’s more than just medical satisfaction that can help with that.

The more that she got involved with hospice the more passion grew in Ashleigh’s veins and she wanted to reach out and do more. This is what gave light to the concept of “hearts for hospice”, she wanted to touch the patients’ lives magically and give them a reason to feel human again, especially when they are feeling down in the dumps.

“One day a nurse made me aware of a patient who is bed bound, hardly being able to leave her house. Her mom and dad looked after her, and with her dad being a doctor made sure that her medical needs are well looked after. Our nurse in Sedgefield sees her at least once a week, and told me how the patient really wishes she could see a live concert, and in particular the Parlotones live.”

Once the nurse told Ashleigh this, she really wanted to make it happen. She then made contact with the booking agent for the Parlotones, the booking agent then spoke to Kahn Morbee and he agreed straight away to her delight. They then entered into correspondence, he met the patient and it was an extremely moving experience for everyone involved.

Through the “hearts for hospice” campaign, Ashleigh would like to touch more lives through such initiatives, and for her the best part of it has been when the patient mentioned that, “the best thing about being sick for her has been hospice and their support”.

Moving forward

Ashleigh believes there is still a lot of hard work to do around the perception of hospice and presenting it in a more positive light. Two basic things for her need to be stressed and practised much more in the hospice setting, and that is advocating more strongly about what it is really all about, and making sure that through this, the second point of changing perceptions into a more positive light will happen.

“For some people, the word hospice is scary, when it shouldn’t be at all! It should really be the complete opposite.”

Ashleigh is a great example of someone who is really passionate about her job and what she does, especially in terms of hospice and palliative care.

If you would like to get involved with Knsyna Hospice or find out more, click here, or contact Ashleigh directly if you would like to get involved with the “hearts for hospice” campaign.