History of Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services
Stepping Stone Hospice & Care Services is an independent, community-driven organisation and the first-ever service of its kind in the Greater Alberton area of Ekurhuleni. We provide specialist palliative care to people experiencing the impact of life-limiting illness. We aim to meet their physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs, and also support their families through this experience and bring solace to those grieving the death of a loved one. Our palliative care is offered by a team of doctors, professional palliatively-trained nurses, therapists, social workers, spiritual counsellors and volunteers.
How did it all start ... and why?
Tersia’s only child, Vicky Bruce was born with a rare and degenerative connective tissue disorder, Osteogenesis Imperfecta. By her 3rd birthday Vicky had suffered 41 fractures. Despite a prognosis of “life limiting” Vicky survived her childhood and got married at the age of 21. At the age of 22 she gave birth to the 1st of two sons. The effect on her body was devastating and her spine and skeletal system was devastating. At the age of 28 Vicky had “life changing, experimental” back surgery that went wrong. This led to 81 abdominal surgeries over a period of 10 years.
Vicky’s suffering was horrific. In 2012 the doctors said there was no further curative treatment available they could do no more for her. The last 10 years of her life was filled with excruciating pain, total loss of dignity and helplessness. Tersia tried to access Hospice help for her child but sadly Vicky was not accepted by surrounding Hospices as she did not have a diagnosis of cancer or AIDS. Five months before Vicky’s death Tersia managed to secure help from Hospice Wits for her child.
Immediately Vicky’s quality of life improved. Through efficient pain and symptom management Vicky was able to spend a lot of time with her two sons and parents. She was able to watch the boys play sport and go out for milkshakes.
Two months before her death Vicky asked her mother to start a Hospice in Alberton so “no-one will suffer the way she did”.
A hospice was born:
On the 1st of January 2013 Stepping Stone Hospice started operating out of Tersia’s home in Alberton. Vicky was our first patient and our first death. She died on the 18th of January 2013 knowing that her dying wish had been fulfilled.
In March 2013 AMCARE Centre of Faith, Hope & Love in New Market Park, Alberton, offered to house Stepping Stone and in June 2013 construction to the 3 bed In-Patient-Unit, donated by Afri-Panels started.
The In-Patient-Unit has since been extended to house 8 patients in the finals days of life. Plans are being finalised to extend the unit further where the IPU will house 14 beds, two of which will be dedicated to an adolescent section. This section will be large enough to house the family when the little one needs the specialised care that they can only receive in a clinical ward.
We have a dream of finding ground in Alberton that will enable us to build a Hospice Village.
We care for 100+ patients in the community. Community nurses visit the patients at home on a monthly, bi-weekly, weekly or daily basis. We employ 7 registered nurses and 30 auxiliary nurses and caregivers. We have a very strong psychosocial team that provides emotional support to our terminally ill patients and their families. We have 42 Volunteers that assist us at every level.
On average we lose between 25 and 35 patients per month.
The ONLY criteria for being accepted into the Stepping Stone Hospice program is a diagnosis of “life limiting illness”