Living and growing up in the same community where you end up becoming a St Bernard’s Hospice Social Auxiliary worker like Pumla Qoza and Mkiswa (Virginia) Makhindza, certainly has its Challenges.
Everyone knows you and where you live. This means anxious members in the Community come to you with their problems all hours of the day & night knowing you have the aptitude and means to try and assist, mediate and possibly solve their problems. They forget that your main focus is the care and support of Hospice Patients, and their families. Unfortunately two people and one Organization can only do so much.
That is perhaps the “downside” of being an intricate part of this close knit community; the “upside” being that those same people also tell you when there are problems with individuals/families that requires intervention and immediate action from the relevant authorities. This being crucial information that might otherwise not come to light had the Social Auxiliary Workers not had the community members trust and reassurance that they had their best interest at heart.
An example of this was an early morning disturbance at Pumla’s home by distressed nearby residents who banged on her front door asking for her assistance and intervention regarding a situation they had been “monitoring”. “ The incident was unrelated to my work at St Bernard’s Hospice, but some of the people at my front door were once my patients, children or family members’ of my patients” says Pumla. Pumla said she spent the day diffusing a volatile situation where a minor was involved and reported it to the relevant local authorities who began managing it immediately. As Pumla said, “the problem was not entirely solved by me, but by taking the time out to listen and assist community members when they ask help build trust with the very people I serve by working at St Bernard’s Hospice”.
Daily Incidents like what Pumla experienced are many for both our Social Auxiliary workers.
Mkiswa related a story of her “perchance” encounter with two young ladies in their late teens whom she had taught at Sunday school. The one (*Susan) had two small children and looked very thin and ill. It took Mkiswa a few phone calls, much persuasion and then *Susan becoming gravely ill before she admitted that she was HIV Positive and not on ARV’s. Mkiswa accompanied the very ill *Susan to the clinic for retesting as all the previous documentation had been lost; then registered her with St Bernard’s Hospice as a patient so we could help nurse her back to health; and finally facilitated Palliative Care until she was stronger and able to care for herself and her two children. *Susan is one of the 36% unemployed in South Africa, but with Mkiswa’s and St Bernard’s Hospice Care & Support, is managing to partially fend for herself and the children. Mkiswa says” Those two little children still have their mother to look after them today because she is now taking her daily ARV’s ”
St Bernard’s Hospice registers and visits patients within a 50km radius of Buffalo City and our social auxiliary workers rely mostly on public transport and foot to get around. The terrain in and around informal settlements can be treacherous and almost inaccessible at times, but this never seems to stop any of our nursing staff visiting patients. There are occasions where Social Auxiliary workers accompany Professional Nurses on visits as well so they get an indication of what their patients require medically.
Daily Reports are written, then collated into a monthly report and submitted to our Nursing Manager, Sister Riccy Durrheim. The process is all an intricate part of a web of activities within St Bernard’s Hospice administration that ultimately measures work St Bernard’s Hospice does within the various communities, both formal and informal. We have effectively served the BCMM Community for close on 30 years and continue to do so throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Please watch this video that gives you an indication of the terrain of informal settlements.
Clink on picture for link that will take you to is a link Upgrading of Informal Settlements Policy and Strategy for Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) that was approved by the BCMM council in 2015. (16 January 2017)