By Janet Walton
As a nurse living in Frome, Somerset and working in the surrounding towns as a Specialist Palliative Care Nurse, I have been thinking for some time that I would like to do something for a charity in South Africa. I was born in Johannesburg and worked in palliative care in Johannesburg whilst a friend worked in Pinetown Durban. My husband and I moved to the UK in 2000, and I was drawn back to working with patients who have life limiting illnesses in London and later across Cambridgeshire.
We moved to Frome in 2012 and I am lucky enough to work in an area of nursing that is immensely rewarding for me. I work alongside patients and their families helping them on their journeys. My friend Sue came to visit last year as she was working around London and I had an opportunity to show her where I worked and was immediately struck by how lucky we are to have all the staff and facilities we do and especially for community-based patients. In South Africa hospices are lucky to have small community teams made up of a few registered nurses and larger teams of healthcare assistants to often cover vast areas. I decided then I would like to support a hospice in South Africa so when Sue returned home and started working at Khanya Hospice that was ideal.
Khanya Hospice is a small hospice providing home palliative care to the community the south coast of Kwa Zulu Natal where they cover an area of approximately 1500 miles. Here the staff work in very challenging situations, visiting terminally ill patients who have been sent home from hospitals with inadequate or no medication to control their distressing symptoms such as nausea, severe pain breathless and anxiety.
Another concern is a lack of sanitation and running water which makes it harder to support patients who are often bed bound and incontinent where water must be collected from water point or carried to patients homes. Most of their patients live in small poorly constructed homes with inadequate ventilation which leads to the spread of Tuberculosis another frequent life limiting illness in South Africa.
Although the area is beautiful, the rolling hills present a challenge in the summer as some of the dirt roads in the rural areas are flooded and running with water and mud. This means transport to patients is difficult, necessitating walks down slippery rock-strewn paths to reach people who desperately need our help. Most of the patients are from poverty-stricken areas with poor or absent medical and nursing facilities.
Motivated to donate to make a change find us on gofundme.com Khanya Hospice, or email: email@example.com
You can read about Janet’s life in Frome, Somerset, UK in her article ‘Where We Live’
Janet has also reviewed ‘Like Clockwork’ by South African author
Author Margie Orford