A day in the life of a home-based care worker

02 October 2013 | Opinion

Commitment to helping those in need often goes unnoticed – but the dedication of home-based care (HBC) workers such as Francinah Ndileka Mjanyelwa quietly transforms lives, and whole communities.

A Hospice Rustenburg worker prepares to examine a patient

An active participant in her church, a peer educator and chairperson in the community, Francinah always wanted to become a nurse. She says her school education did not allow her to fulfil her dreams, but when opportunity came knocking 16 years ago, she grabbed it. She has since progressed to a senior care worker, with two community care workers under her guidance, at Hospice Rustenburg.

Through Hospice Rustenburg, HBC workers are able to provide holistic palliative care that focuses on the mental, physical, emotional, social and cultural aspects of the individual. “Our services cater to individuals and families who are suffering or affected by life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses,” says Karen Ackerman, CEO of Hospice Rustenburg.

HBC workers provide complete quality health services at home and in communities, helping restore and maintain people’s health standards and way of living by providing health services at home.

Depending on their health, the HBC workers could see between three and five patients on a daily basis. Francinah and her team provide nutritional support to adults, orphans and vulnerable children. They also provide bereavement care, social support services, support groups, poverty alleviation programmes, counselling, and patient and family education.

Francinah adds that there are many challenges to her job: “Transportation of ill patients who are not able to assist themselves is a challenge. We sometimes use wheelbarrows or any other mode of transport to transport these patients to hospital. Patients who default on treatment are also stigmatised by further health problems.”

“The home-based care workers have shown that selfless dedication and commitment can make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities. They have provided a platform to educate and create awareness on numerous health issues, that can help make a difference in one life or that of an entire community,” says Howard Arrand, chairperson of the FNB Fund.

Because Francinah works closely with her patients, any loss is very difficult to handle.

“Patients and families touch our hearts in many ways, and it’s very difficult to lose them. I would encourage people to get involved in helping others, as it is rewarding and a very satisfying experience. You get blessings from the almighty God, and at the same time gain a lot of personal knowledge, skills and change in attitude,” she concludes.