Netcare opened its first dedicated supportive care unit at Netcare Linksfield Hospital in Johannesburg towards the end of last year, with the goal of meeting the specific needs of seriously ill patients requiring specialised supportive care.
This service not only makes it possible for treating specialists to closely monitor and medically manage their patients’ condition on a continuous basis but also ensures that the patients are provided with the specialised care they require by a dedicated healthcare team, which includes nurses trained in supportive care.
“The ultimate aim of this holistic service is to maintain patients’ quality of life. Particular emphasis is therefore placed on proactive symptom management and pain control for each individual patient, while at the same time providing for their holistic well-being including their psycho-emotional, social and spiritual needs, in line with their needs and wishes,” says Gerda Labuschagne, supportive care manager at Netcare cancer care services.
Louis van der Hoven, general manager at Netcare Linksfield Hospital explains that while medical management of their patient’s condition remains the domain of the primary treating specialist, the interdisciplinary supportive care team is responsible for other aspects of the patient’s care in the supportive care unit, in consultation with the specialist. Nurses employed in the unit are selected for competencies in supportive care, and their skills are enhanced with specialised training in supportive care, as well as through mentoring.
“Dealing with any serious or life-threatening illness can result in exhaustion, anxiety and depression for patients, their families and other home caregivers, which can have a significant impact on the quality of life for all concerned, and it is therefore never too early to start supportive care.
“Our service has already proven itself to be invaluable to patients and families alike. The very positive feedback we’ve received from patients and their loved ones is heart-warming and rewarding to us,” Labuschagne says.
“The foundation of our supportive care service is open, honest and consistent communication between the supportive care team, treating specialists and the patient and their family, in order to fully understand the diagnosis and symptoms of the condition and take into consideration the needs and wishes of the patient. This enables well-planned treatment and holistic care for each patient throughout their unique journey of the illness and, importantly, also anticipates any future needs.”
“Another key focus area is on-going assessment, monitoring and pro-active pain management to alleviate pain, discomfort, side effects of treatment, anxiety and other challenges each individual may be facing. Pro-active pain management not only makes patients feel more comfortable, but will often make it possible for them to engage with visiting friends and family and enjoy activities and other aspects of their lives that are meaningful to them,” Labuschagne emphasises.
“Whereas many people associate hospitals with a clinical setting, we have created a warm and inviting ‘home away from home’ environment that is conducive to rest, as patients are seriously ill. Patients can choose whether they prefer to stay in a private room or share a small ward with other patients,” says Hloniphile Danisa, unit manager of the supportive care unit, Ward B.
Danisa says the supportive care staff understand how important it is for patients and their families and friends to have the opportunity to spend time together, and therefore no restrictions are placed on visiting. “Patients can also consult with their chosen spiritual leader or engage with counsellors, social workers or other professional and volunteer services at any time,” she adds.
“Whatever the patient’s prognosis is, we place their comfort, dignity and well-being at the centre of the care we provide and nurture and support them in every possible way,” Van der Hoven concludes.
For more information on Netcare’s supportive care services, contact Gerda Labuschagne by email at Gerda.Labuschagne@netcare.co.za or phone her on 011 301 0375. To contact the supportive care team at Netcare Linksfield Hospital, phone 011 647 3663/4
Issued by: MNA on behalf of the Netcare Linksfield Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
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