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Graduates make history at hospice

On Friday October 02 October 2020, 28 previously unemployed young people not only graduated as the assistant Home-Based Carer in South Africa, but they made history in becoming the first group of students to ever complete the requirements of the Home Based Personal Care Assistant (NQF2) program.

Stepping Stone Hospice’s Centre for Palliative Learning in New Market Park, is one of seven hospice training centres in South Africa to have earned an accreditation for their home based care training programme from the QCTO (Quality Council for Trades and Occupations).

Their first group of Home Based Care students enrolled in September 2019. In line with the government’s YES (Youth Employment Service) programme introduced in March 2018, this group of students received sponsorship from Discovery for the programme, covering their learnership as well as a monthly stipend for the duration of their training.

After completing an approximate 70 hours theoretical training, under the guidance of the Centre’s Principal, Sr Fiona Shraga, the students then had to successfully complete 300 practical training hours in a simulated environment. The students were then placed in the workplace where they had to complete a further 300 practical training hours.

Speaking at the graduation, Sr Shraga pointed out that these young people received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and wished them the best of success in their journeys going forward, pleading with them to not let this be “your last graduation. I am privileged to have been part of this pioneer group and can’t wait to see how our students and this training centre now go from strength to strength.”

On completion of their workplace experience, the students wrote an internal summative exam. The students are set to write an external summative exam set by HWSETA to gain their accredited occupational certification as a Home Based Carer assistants in March 2021. Head of the Training Centre, Sonia Thomson, says she is delighted with the results. “Of our original group of 30 students, 28 made it here today. It is an astonishing achievement if you take into consideration that they come from previously disadvantaged communities and had to overcome many obstacles to be able to stand here today.”

Addressing the group at the graduation, Stepping Stone Hospice CEO, Tersia Burger, says that she finds great comfort in knowing that through the hospice’s training centre Stepping Stone Hospice’s level of professional care will be shared in the palliative care environment throughout South Africa.

“Working in the palliative care environment, you find yourself in a space where people are hurting, they are angry, bewildered, sad and uncertain. I know that our students have learnt the value of being kind always, to listen, to have empathy and sympathy. The legacy of Stepping Stone Hospice will live on in the care you offer your patients,” she concluded.

Three of the students who received outstanding results: Mpumi Nhlapo (2nd from left) – Highest mark in exam, Aviwe Bota (3rd from left) – Highest mark in knowledge module tests and Nthando Mazibuko (on the right) – Highest mark in Practical Modules. Head of the Training Centre, Sonia Thomson is on the left with Sr Fiona Shraga, principal, in the middle.

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