A decade of palliative care

Warren Hermanus, Gustaf Cupido and Dr Clinton Cupido testing the new wheelchair ramp.

This year Abundant Life is celebrating a decade of providing palliative care to the terminally ill.

Dr Clinton Cupido, a senior consultant at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, says preparing a patient for death is one of the most empowering things you can do for that person.

He heads the Abundant Life team that has given care, counselling and practical support both to patients and their families.

Palliative care, he says, eases a patient’s pain and stress and gives them and their families emotional, social and spiritual support (“Palliative Care Day at Victoria Hospital,” Southern Mail, October 12 2017).

Abundant Life takes its name from the recognition that when we are seriously ill life is precious and we can still live life abundantly.

This year the team has taken the programme a giant leap forward by taking over a house in Bayview and Lindley roads close to the hospital.

“It will be a counselling centre where we can continue the conversation after breaking bad news to a patient in the hospital,” said Dr Cupido.

The house will also be used as a training centre for nurses and carers of the terminally ill, and there are plans to run support groups every fortnight on Saturday mornings.

Rondebosch resident Warren Hermanus, of the Friends of Victoria Hospital, said the house had been in a shocking state when they had taken it over in December.

“It belonged to the Department of Public Works and was used many years ago as a creche for hospital staff. Since then it was inhabited by vagrants. The roof leaked, there was no plumbing or electricity and the walls were marked by water and fires,” said Mr Hermanus.

Initially they had grand ideas of demolishing the house until they found that a road was planned to run through it. And so they renovated it.

Dr Cupido said the business community had been very supportive, helping with plumbing, paint, furniture, and an alarm system and materials.

He roped in family, including his dad, Gustaf Cupido, and father-in-law Omar Rejaldien who spent long hours installing sliding doors, building a wheelchair ramp, painting and plumbing.

Through all this goodwill as well as money raised from the Abundant Life second-hand shop, the renovation has cost Victoria Hospital nothing.

Mr Hermanus said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of the community and excited that palliative care was being recognised as a much-needed health-care protocol at Victoria Hospital.

And despite a long list of things that still need doing, they have already had 500 patients through the house, and on Saturday they held a workshop with 13 family members of a woman who was told she was terminally ill.

On Tuesday June 26 they held their first training session with 26 nurses from Gansbaai and Vredenburg.

Future plans include installing a water tank and solar system and converting a section of garden for parking with an electronic
gate.

Their neighbours have seen what they are doing and have thanked them for making the house nice again. One of them
has offered to help with the garden.

On Monday August 20 they will hold a fund-raiser at Panarottis at Century City where guests can eat as much pizza as they like.

The centre’s official opening is on Saturday August 25 when they will hold an open house from 9am to 2pm.

There will be another fund-raiser with auctioneer Joey Burke at Stardust Restaurant in Cape Town on Thursday September 27. Prizes include weekends away, wine and art, a cardiovascular assessment, a hip replacement and a birthday party for 30 children.

Call 021 799 1161 or visit www.friendsofvictoriahospital.org for details.