Muriel Swart

Hospice: Stepping Stone Hospice
Name of patient: Muriel Swart
Written by: Stepping Stone Hospice
Diagnosis: Chronic osteoporosis
Message: Palliative care is not only end of life care. It is the holistic care provided to anyone diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening condition with the aim of improving their quality of life.

Photograph caption:

Team hospice, Sister Margi Bollman and Christie Mitchell, here with Muriel Swart and her son Gerald and his wife Jenny.

No dictionary can explain palliative care better than a visit to 92-year old Muriel Swart from Mayberry Park, Alberton. Muriel has been bedridden since 2017 with chronic osteoporosis.

Muriel stays with her son, Gerald and his wife Jenny. It was Jenny who, some nine years ago, registered Muriel as a hospice patient when she realized that they could no longer manage the excruciating pain Muriel was in. “She also lost mobility and I am convinced that, if it was not for the intervention of hospice, my mom-in-law would have died from pain back then,” Jenny says.

Speaking to Muriel, it soon becomes clear that not just the medical care she received from Stepping Stone Hospice, but more so the social care she received from their psycho-social counsellor Christie Mitchell, has changed her life.

The bond between Muriel and Christie is unmistakable. “I became involved with Muriel’s case almost from the day she was registered with our hospice. I never miss a visit and even throughout the Covid lockdown, we kept talking via video calls,” Christie explains.

Muriel has three children with her daughter, Belinda staying in Scotland and her other son, Basil in New Zealand. Her husband Blackie, passed away in the year 2000. “With most of my own family also living overseas, we understand each other’s need for close connection. Muriel really gives me a lot of joy and we literally talk about everything,” Christie says.

According to Sister Margi Bollman, Clinical Care Manager at Stepping Stone Hospice, there is always a holistic approach to the care of a patient. “Whilst we as a medical team keep an eye on her medical condition and medicines, our psycho-social team looks after her mental and spiritual well-being. This could explain why Muriel, once a keen gardener and a person who enjoyed knitting, can now say that she has accepted what has happened to her.

“It is so important for us that our community understands that hospice care is also palliative care and that we look after everyone suffering from a life-limiting illness. Muriel is an excellent example of how our care has improved the quality of life of a patient who faced the effects of an incurable disease,” explains Sister Bollman.