When the term “palliative care” comes to mind it stirs up sombre emotions as it’s so closely linked to severe illness and end-of-life situations. That isn’t necessarily all it’s about, though. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family by focusing on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of an illness.
This type of work needs a dedicated team of specially trained nurses and therapists who work together to provide support to their patients. For registered nurse, Sr Charon Vosloo, it’s a true call of duty. “I am thankful to have the opportunity to help terminally ill patients deal with their fears on an emotional, spiritual and physical level,” she says. “I love that I can be there for them and their families and help them identify where they’re at within themselves.”
Sr Vosloo fondly remembers 17-year-old Ethan Swartz who was admitted to St Joseph’s Home in July 2021 with ganglioneuroblastoma (an intermediate tumour that arises from nerve tissues). “I was delighted to meet Ethan for the first time. He was shy at first, but once we got to know each other, he was a very sweet boy,” she explains. “He would always share the little he had with other children in his ward.”
Physiotherapist Vania van Wyk shares the same sentiments. “Ethan had a close friend, Milano Meyers (17), who was in the same ward. They built a very special bond and supported each other daily. Although their diagnoses were different, somehow they could relate to one another and support one another in the process,” she says.
The care provided at St Joseph’s Home is not limited to paediatric rehabilitation, clinical care and psycho-social support. Palliative care forms a big part in ensuring that the holistic needs of all patients are met.