Catching up with Fran Tong, Manager of Overstrand Hospice

This week the Communications team are highlighting the great work happening at Overstrand hospice through their #HospiceVisits drive. We managed to have a chat with Fran Tong, a previous employee of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa, and now the current manager of Overstrand Hospice.

How did your journey begin with hospice?

In 1999 I joined the then known “Paarl hospice” which is now known as Drakenstein Hospice as a social worker, and within my first year, I realised that hospice was a very special place and that the care we were doing was very special and unique.

How long were you at Drakenstein Hospice for and what did you learn?

I was at Drakenstein Hospice for 10 years and in that time I realised that there was a gap in my own personal care in terms of spiritual support. I then pursued a Masters in Pastoral Therapy to close this gap and also to become a spiritual counsellor, because at the time we did not have one and we needed one to access the support. I embarked on the Masters, which not only deepened my skills but also really touched me personally in terms of my own life.

I have embraced the principles and practices since having completed the Masters, so putting people in the centre is a principle I hold dear from what I learnt as well as putting the other person before yourself and not the other way around.

When did your journey at the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa begin and what were your experiences like working there?

In my final year at Drakenstein Hospice (2007) I became the Patient Care Manager and then in 2008 I joined HPCA as a regional mentor after doing part-time work prior to the appointment.

The most positive influences during my time at HPCA were no doubt Sue Cameron and Kath Defilippi. What I really respected about them was their management style – they would not expect us to do things that they were not prepared to do.

They were fantastic role models in terms of work ethic, care and communication. No challenge was ever too big for them, and they are both woman of incredible integrity. If I were to emulate any management style it would be based on what I experienced from the two of them as managers.  I then moved on after 7 fruitful years at HPCA and am now the Manager of Overstrand Hospice.

How has your experience as the Manager of Overstrand Hospice been and what have you brought to this wonderful hospice through your own experience?

I felt that my experience could contribute to the growth and development of this organisation and its staff, with what I had acquired from working in a member hospice and for HPCA and I felt I could bring these skills to Overstrand and make a difference once again at a local level.

So far, the experience has been phenomenal and to be honest, I owe a lot to how well the hospice had been running before I arrived.

Overstrand first opened its doors in 2007 and the organisation has grown considerably which is largely due to the vision, dedication and determination of our Founder members, an involved and resourceful board, volunteers and staff as well as the generosity of the public. It has truly been a fruitful experience working at this hospice so far and I look forward to how the future looks with Overstrand Hospice and palliative care in general.

Find out more about Overstrand hospice here.