Hospices are currently playing a valuable and unseen role in the Covid-19 crisis. According to Tersia Burger, CEO of Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services in Alberton: “Palliative care is available to anyone who is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and we are increasingly recognising that Covid-19 infections fit within that category.”
Says Ewa Skowronska, CEO of the Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA): “Palliative care is often understood to be care for the terminally ill. This is not correct. It is the provision of care for people whose life is threatened by a disease. Palliative care trained health workers can and are offering specialist support in areas that are critical during the Covid-19 pandemic such as pain and symptom management, communication with families, spiritual support and bereavement counselling. Families and patients often don’t know that they can and should expect holistic support when they are facing life-threatening diseases of any kind.”
HPCA’s 103 member hospices across South Africa who care for patients with a variety of life-threatening diseases, predominantly in the comfort of their own homes, implemented strict Standard Operating Protocols (SOP) early in the pandemic to protect the highly vulnerable patients that they care for. As the lockdown has continued, some hospices are extending the SOP to offer care for those that have been affected by Covid-19.