1 to 8 May is Hospice Week...
Back in 2013, an Alberton mom honoured her dying daughter’s last wish – to open a hospice facility in Alberton that would take care of people and their families who were facing life-limiting illnesses. At the time, neither Tersia Burger nor the rest of her six-woman steering committee, ever thought that in the four years that would follow, Stepping Stone Hospice would grow to the extent where they, this year, signed off on an annual budget of R16-million!
In a week that has been declared National Hospice Week internationally, running from 1 to 8 May, it’s a good opportunity to look at Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services in New Market Park as a facility that has grown from two paid staff members back in June 2013, to the 35 full-time staff and 36 part-time staff complement as it stands today.
The statistics are not only staggering, but also highlight the desperate need in our community and surrounds for professional palliative care. Palliative care can be described as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the difficulties associated with life-limiting illness. This is done through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment and the treatment of pain and other problems – physical, emotional, psycho-social and spiritual.
Says Tersia Burger, CEO: “The mere fact that we are faced with the mammoth task of raising funds to extend our In-Patient Unit facilities, a sum that runs into the R4-million bracket, must be a clear indication that the services we provide are now an integral part of the communities we live in. Life-limiting illnesses are a reality many of us have to face.”
In 2013, 97 Stepping Stone Hospice patients died. In 2016, 235 Stepping Stone hospice patients died – an increase of over 227 percent.
“Many factors have contributed to patients and their families turning to us for help,” explains Tersia. “People have certainly become more aware of us and what we stand for. In the words of Hospice movement founder, Dame Cecily Saunders, ‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life,’ we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to help you live until you die,” adds Tersia.
Stepping Stone Hospice is a true testimony to Dame Saunders’s words. “Our services to our patients and their families extend so much further than the norm. We have helped many patients fulfil their last wishes, and as recently seen, we have helped a patient’s son get a full bursary to continue his studies. It’s what we do. For us it’s not just a job, it is a calling, and we are humbled by the fact that we can help and deliver these services,” says Tersia.
Caption: Stepping Stone Hospice’s Garden of Remembrance