A short account on how the Pandemic has affected some of our activities

Msunduzi Hospice

Due to the pandemic, many activities for children were cancelled. A short account on how the Covid Pandemic is having an impact on some of our services.

Msunduzi Hospice provides a Paediatric programme which focuses on the provision of Memory Work for the children of patients with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. This is alongside the clinical care provided to children who have a diagnoses. This programme is made available by two trained memory workers (Benard and Vuyisile) and is co-ordinated by a social worker (Pretty). During 2020, the programme was heavily affected by the pandemic which spread all over the country and resulted in the lock-down of the whole of South Africa.

It is customary, as part of the memory work programme, to host ‘Healing sessions’ at the conclusion of the memory work activities undertaken by the children. These ‘Healing sessions’ generally take the form of a gathering where various activities are undertaken. For obvious reasons all the gatherings for children were cancelled during 2020. In addition to this, limited visits were provided to children in order to limit the risks associated with Covid (most of the children on this programme do not have a diagnosis, their parents and guardians do). Visits by the Memory workers and social workers to children resumed in June and many concerns were raised by families. They were very worried about the future of their children’s programme but they received explanations from the social workers and nurses who continued to visit families in the absence of the Memory workers.

All the large gatherings of children were cancelled through 2020 including the end-of-year Christmas party, although presents were organised and distributed to the 50 children who were selected as the most needy out of a large number of children who were on the programme during 2020.

Some additional concerns were noted by the care team as they visited the patients and their families. When families were visited during lock-down, the children were all at home and the need for groceries increased. The families were struggling to have enough food for the children and make ends meet. Msunduzi Hospice only receives a limited amount of food parcels per month to distribute to the most needy families. This is inadequate to serve the huge need prevalent in our community. Msunduzi Hospice was able to partner with Food Forward (a food distribution programme) in order to try and help with this situation. This made a difference during the lock down and families were very grateful for this initiative. It made a big difference to an already destitute community.

During the lock-down some families lost loved ones as well as employment because of the economic climate. A lot of counselling was provided to grieving families and extra time spent just listening to family’s misfortunes. Lots of questions were asked about school reopening and learners were stressed about the end of the year results especially for those completing matric.

Complied by: Pretty Zondi - Social worker

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