Helderberg Hospice: 30 years of specialist care

Since 1986, Helderberg Hospice has touched the lives of more than 20 000 patients and their family members in the Helderberg basin as they faced the challenge of a life-threatening illness.

Apart from providing skilled medical care to control symptoms and manage pain levels so that patients can live their last days in comfort and dignity, Helderberg Hospice also provides emotional and spiritual support to the patient and their loved ones. A comprehensive bereavement service is available to those who grieve, giving them support and hope as they live with their loss.
From small beginnings 30 years ago – with one nursing sister literally working out of the boot of her car – to a staff of over 50 who provide a holistic care programme of medical, social work and supportive services, Helderberg Hospice has delivered a growing and much-needed service in the community.

Hospice House at 21 Old Stellenbosch Rd, Somerset West, is today a welcoming and peaceful place, providing specialist in-patient care for up to 10 patients at a time, but it was in a state of complete dilapidation when Helderberg Hospice received the use of this property in 1986. Thanks to the energetic support of many willing volunteers and the local service clubs, the building has been lovingly restored and extended over the years and is the hub of the network of hospice care that extends throughout the Helderberg area. The beautiful gardens, a place of comfort and calm for many in a difficult time in their lives, are also witness to the community involvement and partnership that makes Hospice care possible.
While Hospice House may be a landmark in the community, 90% of the specialist care provided to the community takes place in people’s own homes. From battered shacks to suburban houses and mountainside mansions, the team of six Helderberg Hospice Home Care sisters provides individually tailored care that enables patients to spend their last days at home, surrounded by their loved ones and all that is dear to them.

A part-time doctor, supported by volunteer doctors in the community, oversees all patients who do not have their own personal doctor. Two social workers complete the holistic care team, addressing the social, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families.
Backed up by many years of experience and medical expertise, and working in conjunction with a number of medical care partners, Helderberg Hospice is able to provide a highly specialised service to meet the needs of patients, working to relieve pain and discomfort and guiding family members through the journey they too must make.

“We believe that no-one should have to face death alone, afraid or in pain,” says Patricia McNaught Davis, spokesperson for Helderberg Hospice. “Each of our patients is a person of value; they are someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, colleague or friend. Whether they are at home, in day care or in our 10-bed ward at Hospice House, the compassionate care they receive from our multidisciplinary team of staff is tailored to their own individual needs and is given regardless of the patient’s financial situation. That is why we are so dependent on the support of the community to enable us to serve those who are unable to meet the cost of this specialised care.”
Helderberg Hospice makes extensive use of over 300 trained volunteers who provide essential support services while helping to cut running costs. Sound administration and careful use of funds is essential to providing accountability to donors and the efficient running of the service of care. The management team at Helderberg Hospice takes its task of ethical and transparent administration of funds very seriously indeed.

“Looking back over 30 years of special care, Helderberg Hospice is very grateful for the loyal support of individuals, service clubs, churches, schools, businesses and financial trusts and institutions,” says Patricia McNaught Davis. “Without this under-girding support from the community Helderberg Hospice would not be able to provide the service that we do; we are able to care only because the community makes it possible for us to do so. But the reality of life is that each one of us could one day need the skilled care of Helderberg Hospice, either for ourselves or for our loved ones, so we have to ensure that the service will be there when that situation arises. We urge you, therefore, to know us before you need us; get involved now in supporting Helderberg Hospice.”

*This article was originally published on the Helderberg Hospice Website