For 31 years, St Bernard’s Hospice has been providing palliative care in East London for those facing debilitating health challenges, and with support from local businesses, the hospice vows to continue providing its essential services.
As a non-profit organisation, St Bernard’s relies mainly on fundraising and donations to cover costs, but Covid rendered fundraising challenging.
In the interim, CEO of St Bernard’s, Melissa Knox, was approached by local business Security Vault to collaborate on a raffle of which all proceeds would go directly to the operational costs of the hospice.
Security Vault is a local business that supplies CCTV infrastructure to individuals and installers across Buffalo City.
As a means to give back to the community, Security Vault enabled St Bernard’s to raise R10,000 through its raffle.
Raffle winner Claire Barnes is an avid supporter of St Bernard’s services, given that within her own family palliative support for a loved one has played a pivotal role in quality of life.
Knox and Security Vault staff member Juan Marais agree that partnering with the hospice in terms of fundraising had raised awareness about the business given that Security Vault was a new entrant into the local business space.
In the coming months, St Bernard’s will also be hosting a Spring Market on October 1 at its premesis, and in the interim the public is encouraged to continue patronising the charity shop owned by the hospice on 44 St Marks Road in Southernwood.
The hospice also rents out equipment such as wheelchairs and commodes for a fee. A key component of fundraising work is critical consciousness-raising and Knox said it was important to break the stigma surrounding hospice care.
She said hospices were incorrectly associated with terminal care.
“Palliative care speeds up and eases the communication between the patient and the treating doctor,” she said. “If you are the sick person you often have to wait a long time to see your doctor but in between those periods of consultation you can be suffering as you are not feeling well after something like chemo, for example, and you may have to sit with increased pain or nausea until the next time you can see your doctor.
“But because hospice workers meet every two weeks with the doctors, they can call a treating doctor on behalf of a patient to bring health concerns to the doctor’s immediate attention so that scripts can be secured for nausea or any change in symptoms.”
Knox encourages patients and families to get in touch with St Bernard’s when an initial diagnosis is received so that registered health professionals who work for the hospice are able to meet with the patient and their family to help them prepare for what lay ahead.