I believe that ill people are more than just a body that needs medical intervention | Dr Sylvia Rodrigues

Dr Sylvia Rodrigues has a special interest in Palliative care and during our #HospiceVisits coverage of Stepping Stone Hospice she shed some light on her personal experience with hospice and palliative care.

1. Tell us abit about yourself?

I practice as a clinical oncologist in Alberton, South Johannesburg. I am a director and volunteer for the Stepping Stone Hospice as I have a special interest in palliative care. I believe that ill people are more than just a body that needs medical intervention.
They have emotions, feelings, beliefs, family, friends and a community, all of which are important when facing a life limiting illness.
2. In your opinion, what is Palliative care and how can it help someone?
Palliative care is the holistic care of people facing life-limiting illness, as well as care for their families and care givers. This includes physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological care, to improve quality of life.
3. What is the role you play as a doctor once a patient has been referred to the Palliative care team?
My role as the doctor in the palliative care team is the assessment and medical management of distressing symptoms. I also play an active role in education of the nursing staff, support teams and community.
4. Do I have to be in a hospital to receive Palliative care?
No. Palliative care is care that is accessible where ever it is needed. This could be at home, in a hospice or even in a hospital.
5. In your opinion, how can access to Palliative care services be improved for everyone regardless of where they are in South Africa?

Palliative care is about care; this can be implemented anywhere in South Africa where there is basic health care and a willing community. A greater awareness and education about the principles of palliative care will go a long way to destigmatize palliative and the associated hospice care. Often cultural and social stigma about hospice care being only about death and dying, are obstacles to early access and support from services that are already available in some communities.