Traditional healers to work with hospice

2014-03-24 00:00

IN a ground-breaking initiative, traditional healers have forged a relationship with hospice care workers for the benefit of patients.

It all began with a training course for traditional healers run in Pietermaritzburg by the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa in 2012.

Following the course, Msunduzi Hospice grabbed at the opportunity to develop a working relationship with the healers.

“It’s a relationship that has room for development, you cannot force anything on it, there are one or two things that if I could change today I would, but this relationship should be allowed to grow,” said Msunduzi Hospice CEO Warren Oxford-Huggett.

He said hospice was working with a small group of traditional healers from the uMgungundlovu District and was now looking to train more.

Oxford-Huggett said the relationship was important. “We care for more than 300 people each year and 80% of those people will access traditional treatment during the course of their care”.

“Slowly, referrals are being made to hospice and slowly, hospice is beginning to draw on the expertise of healers within the communities. A relationship of trust is beginning to develop.”

In one successful collaboration, traditional healer Makhosi Nomthandazo Mayisela referred a patient that she was dealing with to the hospice.

The patient, a young man, had been seeing Mayisela for two months. When she realised he wasn’t getting better she decided to ask a hospice caregiver to help her to refer her patient to Msunduzi Hospice.

The hospice nurse arranged for admission to hospital as the man needed medical intervention. Once he was back home, the traditional healer teamed up with hospice staff to take care of him.

Oxford-Huggett said initially not all the care workers were comfortable working with traditional healers, “which is why I didn’t force any of them to work with traditional healers … The most important thing here is the care of the patient and we work together for the better care of the patient.”

The hospice caregivers and traditional healers now host monthly meetings aimed at improving the collaborative care they offer to patients.

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