Paedspal plea for Children's hospice at 69 Liesbeeck Road
“A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child. That’s how awful the loss is.”
Outside of hospitals, there are currently no dedicated terminal or specialist palliative care beds for children in Cape Town. St Luke’s, Cape Town’s oldest and most established hospice, cares predominantly for adults. Children’s hospices such as Themba Care and Cotlands that were established in the HIV/AIDS era have since closed their units following the success of anti-retroviral therapy. Although facilities such as St Joseph’s Children’s home, Nazareth House and Sarah Fox Convalescent hospital care for chronically ill children with palliative care needs, children are still sent back to hospitals when they are dying. Iris House, a newly established hospice in Stikland provides excellent respite services, mostly in the form of day care and community based support but has no specialist palliative care services.
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.
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 69 Liesbeeck road 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.
The situation of the building in close 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 church-like architecture of the building, its small garden and peaceful setting make it perfect for use as a hospice.
The building has been standing vacant for a number of months now and has become a security risk for the local community as it is being occupied and vandalized by vagrants. Paedspal is currently waiting for due process to be followed as the Provincial Departments of Health and Public Works comply with regulations required for the disposal of public assets. This is necessary before the building can be leased by any interested NGO or other party. We believe this can take anywhere from 2 months to a year.
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.
Dr Michelle Meiring
Cell: 082 408 7102
Mrs Fiona McLennan
Cell: 072 732 3250