No one can predict the future. Terminal illness or accidents can strike at any moment, rearranging lives, altering priorities, taxing financial and health care plans.
Yet most of us still don't like talking about the type of care we want at the end of our lives. So what if you unexpectedly became very sick? It might be hard for you to think about what treatment or care you may want. You might even be so sick that you cannot communicate. If that happens, your doctors and family may need to make decisions for you.
History was made at Stepping Stone Hospice and Care Services on 22 May 2018 when the first group of students at the hospice's newly established Centre for Palliative Learning received their certificates on completion of the Introduction to Palliative Care course.
As part of their "Taking Hospice to the People" campaign, Stepping Stone Hospice CEO, Tersia Burger, addressed the PROBUS group on Wednesday 9 May at Reading Country Club, where she explained palliative "hospice" care and tried to dispel some of the myths around palliative care - the biggest one being that it is only applicable for the last weeks of life.
Palliative care, in a nutshell, is the care of patients with an active, progressive and a far advanced disease for whom the focus of care is the relief and prevention of suffering and ensuring quality of life.
The Stepping Stone Hospice gardens at their In-Patient Unit in New Market Park are a true haven for the patients and their families, a tranquil area where they can share some special, and in many cases, last moments together. Maintaining the gardens however, can be a costly exercise, according to Tersia Burger, CEO of Stepping Stone Hospice. "We have to water regularly with a huge water bill as a consequence." Shane Judge from Skunk Water Solutions in Southcrest, Alberton, came to the hospice's rescue with a donation of a 5000 litre Jojo tank, completely installed as well as adding the gutters to the building. "Having a Jojo tank has been an item on our Wish List for a long time," says Tersia. "So a huge big thank you to Shane and his team for ticking this item off our list. Now we wait for the rains to fall!"
Sometimes it takes courage to talk about the 'unspeakable' issues we are confronted with, issues such as our experience of loss, our fear of death, our loneliness. And more often than not, we have no outlet to express these fears or a safe space where we can acquire coping mechanisms for these challenges.
"Courageous Conservations" is an initiative of Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services and aims to create that safe space where you can turn the "unspeakable" issues into a conversation that can lead to better understanding.
"Working at a hospice exposes us to every kind of human emotion and experience. What we have learnt is that we all have a story. We all experience heartbreak, heartache, uncertainty and difficult times in our lives. Courageous Conversations was borne out of this knowledge," explains CEO Tersia Burger.
In what can only be described as one of the most successful golf days to date held in aid of Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services, the tidy sum of R152 000 was raised for the charity on Wednesday April 18, 2018.
The course at Reading Country Club was a buzz of activities as 140 players took to the field with the 2017 winners, Leon Deschamps and Frans van Tonder, emerging yet again as the champions on 47 points. The format of the competition was a Betterball Stableford.
At its core, palliative care serves to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illness. Sadly however, only about 14% of the 40-million people worldwide in need of palliative care currently receive it, claims the World Health Organisation (WHO). And when it comes to children, 98% of those needing palliative care live in low- and middle-income countries, with almost half of them living in Africa.
With 21 March being Human Rights Day, we asked Stepping Stone Hospice's CEO, Tersia Burger and Clinical Services Manager, Sister Sheryl Newman, why palliative care should be an absolute and fundamental human right…
Yip, it's that time of year again when you get to shine your golf clubs, sharpen your skills and enter Stepping Stone Hospice's Annual Golf Day.
Renowned as one of the most exciting and fun-filled golf days on the golfing calendar, the date has been set for Wednesday, 18 April 2018 at Reading Country Club.
"With the format being Betterball Stableford, we have themed the day as the 'You're My Mate Golf Day' with some really great prizes up for grabs - not just for the winners, but also for the best-dressed Betterball team," says Marietjie Tame, fundraising manager at Stepping Stone Hospice.
As a gesture of giving back to an organization who she says "unselfishly and unconditionally assisted, supported and cared for my late husband, myself, our family and friends during his last days," Gisela Sargent is planning a fundraiser in aid Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services, "so that they can continue with the incredible services they offer to so many."
Many will remember the heart-breaking ceremony in November last year when, a mere three days before his passing, Brian Sargent married his long-time love Gisela Rall in his room at the hospice's In-Patient Unit in New Market Park.
"Never will I forget the love and encouragement during our wedding ceremony, as well as the utmost compassion and respect during our 'three-day honeymoon' before he passed away," says Gisela.
At which point should a person diagnosed with life-limiting cancer register as a hospice patient? This is just one of the many questions asked not just by the patient, but by his/her family members too.
With February 4th being World Cancer Day, a global initiative that originated in the year 2000 at the first ‘World Summit Against Cancer’ held in Paris, we thought it appropriate to raise this question with Sr Sheryl Newman, Clinical Services Manager at Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services in New Market Park.
“While helping to relieve a person's symptoms and side effects from treatment is an important part of cancer care, many patients wait too long to register for hospice care because of preconceived fears that this means they have given up or that hospice care is only applicable in the final weeks or days of life,” says Sr Sheryl. “Palliative care is designed to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life and can be used at any stage of a life-limiting illness if there are troubling symptoms such as pain,” she adds.
Stepping Stone Hospice’s Clinical Services Manager, Sister Sheryl Newman, was on hand on Thursday, 25 January, to accept a fourth wheelchair donation from the staff and pupils of Alberton High during their morning assembly.
Dylan Jacobs, a learner at Alberton High School and a member of the school's Welfare Committee, has been collecting bottle caps and bread tags since he was in Grade 8, in an effort to ‘earn’ wheelchairs from Interwaste as part of the organization’s recycling project, where they donate a wheelchair to the charity of your choice for the collection of plastic bottle caps and bread tags.
Stepping Stone Hospice will soon be opening the doors to another charity shop in Alberton. Says hospice’s Retail Manager, Brenda Peach: “The decision to open a second store came from the growing need to showcase the larger furniture items we receive from the community, as our current shop doesn’t offer the floor space to do that. We needed somewhere to feature the bigger items, in a manner you’d expect to find on a furniture-shop floor.”
The shop, which is located in the Stats Building in Fore Street, in close proximity to the Alberton Boulevard, is certainly large enough to act as a showroom, boasting 450m² of floor space. “We have some alterations and shop fitting to do, but we hope to open our doors by mid-Feb,” says Brenda.
2017 is finally drawing to an end. For some it has been a long year filled with profound sadness and loss. Many families in our community will face a ‘First Christmas’ without their loved ones.
Stepping Stone Hospice, too, experienced a difficult year – probably the most trying in our history. Yet, we also realise that there is so much to be grateful for.
Because of the generosity of our community and the hard work of our fundraising team, we were able to continue caring for the terminally ill in our community and their families. Your contributions have helped make Stepping Stone Hospice one of the leading hospices. We are so grateful to you for helping to support not only our committed clinical team, but also the support staff. You have helped us touch the lives of thousands.
In 2016, we started our Brick-by-Brick Project. The money raised has been set aside to help us realise our dream of a Hospice Village – an extension of our current facilities to help accommodate more patients in need, including adolescent patients and their families. We have encountered some unforeseen obstacles and red tape along the way, but our vision remains the same and we continue to look for the best possible solution for our planned extension to become a reality.
Stepping Stone Hospice paid a visit to St Mary’s Children’s Home in Rosettenville on Thursday, 14 December, to deliver festive parcels put together by members of the clinical team. After receiving a very warm welcome by the children and staff, Stepping Stone CEO Tersia Burger addressed everyone and told them a bit about what a hospice is and does. The children were very interested and asked quite a few questions. One boy asked if we can help people live longer, to which Tersia replied that while we can’t change the eventual outcome for our patients, we can help them live ‘better’ for the time they have left; that we support them and care for them and love them – and that, in essence, is what a hospice does.
Representatives from Pick n Pay, Alberton City arrived at Stepping Stone Hospice on Thursday, 14 December, to donate packs of adult diapers for use in the In-Patient Unit. Said Store Manager, Abel Lehoko, “I drive past the hospice every day on my way to work and have become familiar with what you do for the community. This is our way for saying ‘thank you’.”
“We hope that these will come in handy,” said Inventory Manager, Zelda Kone, who accompanied Abel for the handover. “We use 5-6 diapers per patient, per day, depending on their condition, so these will come in very handy indeed,” explains Stepping Stone Hospice Community Nurse, Sister Margi Bollman.
Members of Komatsu Mining Corp (Joy Global) visited Stepping Stone Hospice’s In-Patient Unit on Wednesday, 13 December, to donate items towards the hospice’s ongoing Wish List. “The collection was a staff-driven initiative,” said Tiffany Krog on behalf of Komatsu. “Any way we can help, we will try.”
“This donation is so welcome,” said Stepping Stone CEO, Tersia Burger. “We spend a great deal on everyday consumables, so every donation – be it paper, cleaning supplies, tea, coffee, tissues – all helps. We’d like to thank everyone at Komatsu who contributed to this wonderful donation.”
A regular supporter of Stepping Stone Hospice, Tracy-Lee Manning, together with the West Pack Lifestyle Centre in Alberton, surprised hospice this week with a R10 000 donation – a direct result of Tracey-Lee nominating Stepping Stone Hospice as her charity of choice in West Pack’s festive cash-giveaway campaign.
“Stepping Stone Hospice has become very close to my heart,” said Tracy at the handover of her winnings on Tuesday morning, 12 December, by representatives of West Pack Lifestyle Head Office at Stepping Stone Hospice’s In-Patient Unit in New Market Park. “I admire the work, the care and the love that happens here and I am truly thankful for Tersia and her team, who touch so many lives.”
Despite a tough economic climate experienced in 2017, the Thursday Club in Primrose, Germiston has managed to yet again donate much-needed funds to Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services. This is the fourth year in a row that Stepping Stone Hospice has been chosen as one of several charities to benefit from The Thursday Club’s fundraising efforts.
The handover took place at a Christmas Lunch hosted by the club, at the Genesis function venue in Boksburg on Thursday, 7 December 2017. The resounding message from all the charities represented on the day was clear – that 2017 has been one of the toughest for them financially and that it is thanks largely to the generosity of the communities around them and groups like The Thursday Club that have helped sustain them.