One of the many projects that is run by the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust in South Africa is its 24-bed Respite Unit which offers around-the-clock care to people in advanced stages of AIDS. The majority of the Unit’s patients are bed-ridden and are suffering from opportunistic infections such as meningitis, TB and pneumonia. The Unit also accepts palliative cancer patients who have no one to care for them at home.
The Respite Unit is called “Othandweni” which means ‘a place of love’ in the local language of IsiZulu – and there could not be a more fitting name for this special place. The facility is staffed by a dedicated team of home-based carers who have all been carefully selected and trained by the centre. They in turn are managed by a small group of qualified nurses and doctors some of whom give their time and skills on a voluntary basis.
Many of the Respite Unit’s home-based carers have themselves lost loved ones to HIV/AIDS so they know just how important it is to show their patients and their families empathy and compassion. The carers and nurses provide love and care to all patients admitted to the unit, giving them bed baths, helping them take their medication, reading to them, dressing wounds, feeding them, and providing one-on-one passive exercise sessions.
Though the majority of the Unit’s patients arrive on death’s door, most of them are able to regain strength, recover, and be discharged, ready to carry on with normal life. These miraculous recoveries are attributed to the high quality of care and treatment afforded to each and every patient. Currently, approximately 70% of all patients admitted to the Respite Unit recover to the point that they can return home to their families. The other 30% of our patients whom cannot be saved, pass away in the Unit surrounded by their centre’s caring and loving staff.
The Respite Unit is open 24-7 and runs 365 days a year. The facility is completely reliant on the generosity and support of both local and international donors to keep its doors open and provide its life-saving services. The Centre’s Adopt-a-Bed Campaign helps to raise much needed funds for the ongoing work of the Respite Unit. Each of the 24 bed’s in the Unit is available to sponsor for a donation of R6000 (approximately £400 per month.) Find more information on the Adopt-a-Bed Campaign.
Alternatively, those who would like to support the work of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust SA can join The Hope Club through a monthly donation of their choosing. Find more information on The Hope Club website.