May 15, 2024 | Press Releases

Bloemfontein, April 2024 – Hospice Week takes place from 5 – 11 May 2024. Annually, this week focuses on the role the palliative care sector plays in healthcare. In South Africa, The Association of Palliative Care Centres (APCC) is the member organisation for 3 palliative care centres in the Free State and 91 nationally, many of which call themselves hospices.

In 2023, all of these members cared for 38,228 people. From this, 16,327 (41%) were patients and 21,901 (59%) were patient household members or loved ones. The predominant diagnosis of patients was HIV/AIDS (37%), followed by Cancer (25%), Chronic illness (23%), COVID (12%), and Tuberculosis (3%). Some patients had more than one diagnosis[1].

“All of our members adhere to the Standards for Palliative Healthcare Services,” says Dr Ewa Skowronska, CEO of the APCC. “The APCC is the only organisation in South Africa that has developed accredited Standards for Palliative Healthcare Services which are services that not only support the thousands of patients cared for nationwide, but their loved ones too. Since the release of the national Policy Framework and Strategy for Palliative Care, there has been a mushrooming of Service Providers that are not accredited. Our members are all accredited and constantly working to improve their accreditation statuses with our mentors.”

To support members in gaining their accreditation, the APCC established a Mentorship Programme. The mentors (who are also members), take other members through the policies, procedures and protocols necessary to gain a Level 1 accreditation. They then guide them through the other 4 levels. In 2023 and early 2024, 14 Members managed to increase their star level by an additional star.

“Mentoring meant the world to us and has also changed the world for us!” says Hanneke Lubbe, General Manager and Spiritual Counsellor at Hospice Bloemfontein.

“In the time preparing for our assessment and getting all documents, policies, and procedures in place, we not only learnt a lot about the process of accreditation, but surprisingly also so much about our organisation and how we can work more productively.

We realised that much of what we are, and were, already doing just needed to be accurately documented so that the processes are clear and logical to everyone, and also demonstrated clearly where we need some additional work and adjustments, not only on paper but in our daily operations.”

The patient stories received from APCC members across South Africa supports the excellence of the service received.

“Palliative care is the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care provided to persons living with a life-threatening illness,” says Skowronska. “Care is offered from the point of diagnosis and extends to bereavement support if needed. Palliative care is an international human right for all persons living with a life-threatening illness. We are honoured to work with our members to continue ensuring that we provide quality palliative care to all in South Africa. With Care beyond Service.”


About the Standards for Palliative Healthcare Services

The APCC Standards are approved by the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) and the International Society for Quality Health Care (ISQua) and are updated every four years. The 4th edition of the STANDARDS FOR PALLIATIVE HEALTHCARE SERVICES are available free of charge to members and at a fee to anyone else. Please email: amanda@apcc.org.za to receive a free copy of the Standards and email buystandards@apcc.org.za for fee detail.

About the APCC

Previously known as the Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA), the Association of Palliative Care Centres (APCC) is a registered NPO in South Africa. Founded in 1987, the (now) APCC is a member organization for palliative care service providers, many of whom refer to themselves as hospices. As a national charity, the Association champions and supports 91 member organisations that provide palliative care services to approximately 40,000 people per year. APCC’s members are located across South Africa and care for patients with a variety of life-threatening conditions, predominantly in the comfort of their own homes.

About palliative care

Palliative care is the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual care provided by an inter-disciplinary team of experts to anyone with a life-threatening illness and their loved ones. Care is offered from the point of diagnosis and extends to bereavement support if needed. APCC members typically have a team that includes a medical doctor, professional nurse, social worker, counsellor, and home-based carers. All staff are trained in palliative care, which aims to ensure a quality of life for patients and to prevent and relieve unnecessary suffering.

[1] As reported by 64 members on the APCC database system.