There is a lot ofstigma attached to the practice of hospice and palliative care, at times very negative and very misinformed. Education is a huge factor when it comes to this and a lot of other serious matters as well like HIV/AIDS.
#HospiceVisits continues as we conclude our trip at Saint Teresa’s Hospice and we have a chat with Magda Woodbridge who is a professional nurse and home-based care manager for the hospice. Magda touched on her upbringing, growing up in the sunny Cape – Malmesbury – completing her training to become a nurse in Bellville at the Otto Du Plessis College and eventually getting married at the age of 20.
She truly loves her job and explained to us a couple of important aspects that she has come to experience working in and around the townships and homes in surrounding areas. These were namely;
- Perception of hospice and palliative care
Running away from your truth – illness
- Extent to which poverty has impacted those affected with illness;
- Lastly, the overall lack of education
Working “hands on” in the community has brought to light the above challenges for Magda and at times it’s sad to see how patients decide to run away from the truth of their illness because of poverty firstly, and secondly the real lack of education. However, on the brighter side of things, the impact that Saint Teresa’s Hospice is making in the community is something that she is extremely proud of.
“The patients address me as their mother and as part of their family. I truly have amazing patients and they really appreciate everything that we do for them. I enjoy my job because of small things, like a thankful hug that I get from a patient or a genuine smile, it all counts to making everything about my job so enjoyable” she said.
Touching on palliative care, she admits that if she knew then what she knows now, personally she feels that she could have made such a huge impact in a lot of patient’s lives. Unfortunately even though palliative care is well practised now, there are still many bad perceptions regarding hospice that will only change through education, constant education.
“It’s at least now at a point where I don’t have to park at the beginning of the road and walk to my patients home, instead of stopping right there, because of the perceptions people in the surrounding houses had when a hospice car pulled up. It’s moved away from that and now they are very thankful when we do visit and provide care,” she added.
What’s sad for Magda is how severely poverty has impacted on the patients and communities in which she works, a prime example is that of the grants. “If a patient’s CD4 count goes too high then they lose the grant, so patients are left defaulting on purpose because if not they will lose the grant – and at times that is the only source of income that they have! It’s a sad reality. At times, I have even encountered how patients sell their medication as well as a source of income, which then creates the ripple effect of the patients never getting better and in turn spreading the disease much easier.”
Hard work is being done by many people, places and organisations to rid the communities of this lack of education and to improve the lives of people living with HIV/Aids and any other life-threatening illnesses. Saint Teresa’s hospice is a prime example of that and we applaud what they are doing.
Find out about Saint Teresa’s Hospice by emailing: email@example.com