Human Resources

Hospice helps soldiers

Written by Health-e News

The Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) and the South African Department of Defence have signed an agreement that will see members of the defence force receiving better palliative care.

The agreement, signed at St Luke’€™s hospice in Kenilworth, further enforces both parties’€™ commitment to providing employees in the military and their families with extensive palliative care when they need it.

Dr Liz Gwyther Chief Executive Officer of HPCA said the association intended to train and mentor health care providers within the South African Military Health Services  (SAMHS) to enable them to offer palliative care services.

‘€œHPCA will provide referral sites for members after they have been discharged,’€ she said.

In addition to the training hospice offered to provide input about the principles and practice of palliative care, assist and support the development of policies, procedures and standards of palliative care within the Department of Defence.

Representing Lieutenant general, Vejaynand Indurjith Ramallah of the South African Military Health Services who was not able to attend the signing, Major General Lifeni Make said soldiers were under the impression they were healthy and would age with only occasional periods of illness.

‘€œIn a military culture it is considered inauspicious to talk about death,’€ he said.

He said in 2009 it was decided that a programme be implemented to offer palliative care for members of the force and their dependents who suffered from terminal illness. This included offering palliative care to those needing comprehensive care and management of HIV and AIDS.

Make said for the programmes to succeed new hospice structures would have to be erected in certain areas while existing ones would need to be upgraded and adapted to provide palliative care to members of the military.

‘€œThe utilisation of the existing hospice infrastructure would therefore lessen the burden on the SAMHS to transfer patients to the three centralised military hospitals,’€ he said.

Gwyther said the agreement was one of the few HPCA had signed with various stake holders including provincial departments of health.  She said it was in line with the association’€™s mission to provide palliative care for everyone.

She said another issue she hoped she could focus on with the defence department was that of offering bereavement support to families of soldiers.

‘€œEven though soldiers are sent on dangerous missions it is still difficult for families to come to terms with the death of a loved one,’€ she said.

Hospice also signed similar agreements with Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and Networking AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA).

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