A multi-disciplinary approach and a physiotherapist puts a smile onto philisiwe’s face

A multi-disciplinary approach and a physiotherapist puts a smile onto philisiwe’s face

Ms. Philisiwe Gaza, a 50 year old lady, contacted Midlands Hospice after being discharged from hospital. She was very unwell, struggling to manage symptoms of pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, and extra pulmonary TB. She had a marked foot drop from suspected nerve damage due to prolonged oedema in her right leg, and had very limited mobility due to her disability, weakness and unmanaged pain. She had lost her job as a community health worker due to her disability and illness. She was discouraged and completely overwhelmed by her situation. After an initial assessment, we began our holistic approach. From a clinical side, we started by managing her pain, which had become all-consuming and completely debilitating. Regular analgesics, by the clock, allowed her more mobility, which meant she could begin performing more of her activities of daily living herself, instead of relying on her daughter. We began to see her confidence improve as she was able to personally care for herself. We educated her on how, why and when to take her staggering amounts of medication and once a practical plan was in place, the situation didn’t seem as overwhelming.

Referral to our internal social worker got her on the path to applying for a disability grant, and gave her the opportunity to discuss her devastation at losing her job, independence and ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

Once her grant had been approved, we encouraged practical, simple financial planning, budgeting and saving.

A lack of mobility was another area of distress for Philisiwe. Walking with a crutch, dragging her leg meant that she was practically housebound and, without enormous effort and planning, an outing to a friend, church or even an appointment at the hospital was a monumental task, leaving her completely exhausted and overwhelmed afterwards, sometimes taking days to recover.

A foot brace that was donated to our Preloved shop got us thinking about how we could improve her foot drop and as a result, her mobility, which would no doubt improve her quality of life.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a physiotherapist on our Board of Directors, and we contacted her to get her advice and perspective on the situation. She was delighted to join us on one of our home visits and after assessing the situation, giving a good massage to the affected areas and educating Philisiwe and her daughter, she left them with exercises, further instructions and a promise to return in two weeks to check up on her progress.

Our home visit the next week was like meeting a different person!

Philisiwe met us at the door with a huge grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye! The foot brace had provided the stability she needed to be able to walk further for longer, and because of the exercises and massages the physio taught them, her muscles and nerves were beginning to remember what they were designed to do. She proudly announced that with great determination, she had taken herself off to church the previous Sunday and her soul and ‘people tank’ was filled again!

By the time the physio returned, Philisiwe was no longer using her crutch and was managing her own housework, which gave her an enormous sense of pride and confidence.
A multidisciplinary team approach meant that this palliative patient could once again have purpose and quality of life in spite of her life-threatening illnesses. Although her road to recovery
is still a journey, there’s a plan in place, and she once again has a hope and vision for her future, which for her IS a matter of life and death!

“None of us, … ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” Mother Teresa

Midlands Hospice


Philisiwe and physiotherapist Di Godfrey