Ryan Hen-Boisen 0

A new Paediatric Palliative centre of Excellence for Cape Town

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A hospice is a busy place that supports a great deal of activity; yet it must also be a calm, safe and tranquil place that facilitates quiet personal reflection. A hospice must be capable of meeting the needs of men and women, young and old, in-patients and out-patients, patients and families, those with cancer and those with other conditions, those who will be discharged home and those who will not, paid staff and volunteers. A hospice is a place where people can live, truly live, until they die.

Per a recent report by UNICEF and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) an estimated 801 155 children need paediatric palliative care in South Africa, and 304 441 of them need specialised palliative care. Currently, only 14 501 children in South Africa are receiving any form of palliative care. Extrapolated to the Western Cape, (11.4% of the total population: Stats SA 2013) this translates to 91 332 children needing generalist care with 34 706 needing specialist care in the province.

Although hospitals do what they can to provide quality and compassionate end of life care, it is not the main goal of acute care facilities to care for the dying. The presence of dying children in hospital wards also impacts negatively on families whose children are expected to recover or undergo elective surgical procedures. Outside of hospitals, there are currently no dedicated terminal or specialist palliative care beds for these children in Cape Town. St Luke’s, Cape Town’s oldest and most established hospice, cares predominantly for adults.

It is with this need in mind that Paedspal Cape Town, a newly established NGO, has approached the Departments of Health and Public works to lease WIlliam Slater House (cnr Park and Milner Roads) for use as a children’s hospice and palliative care unit. The intention is to be able to provide a 10-bed palliative care unit with the capacity to care for children with unrelieved pain and other distressing symptoms or requiring terminal care. Due to the size of the property we will be able to house our outpatient unit here and will create this as a Paediatric Palliative Centre of Excellence. The proximity to the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital is ideal as most referrals are likely to come from this hospital, although children referred from any of Cape Town’s hospitals will be accommodated. In addition, the large open space, extensive garden and peaceful setting make it perfect for use as a hospice.

The building will be vacant from May and will be handed back over to the department of Public Works where it will likely stand vacant and become a security risk. We are currently in discussion with Western Cape Government and the Red Cross Children’s hospital to fast-track the development of this centre.

If you would like to endorse the establishment of this much-needed facility at this address please assist us by signing your name, providing your professional/organisational affiliation (if relevant), contact no and comment (if desired). Separate letters of support are also welcome.

Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us or for more information please look at our website http://paedspal.org.za/

Dr Michelle Meiring

Programme Manager


Cell: 082 408 7102

Mrs Fiona McLennan

Programme administrator


Cell: 072 732 3250

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