Landi Bezuidenhout provides pillar of strength for patients with life-threatening illnesses
As Chief Executive Officer and Nursing Service Manager of Nelspruit Hospice, Landi Bezuidenhout has been a pillar of strength for many people with life-threatening illnesses for the past four years.
For this, she has been nominated for the South African Council for Business Women (SACBW) recognition awards in the category for Warrior Woman.
Nelspruit Hospice was established about 16 years ago and is one of only two hospices in the Ehlanzeni District, which has a population of 1,857 million. It is a registered non-profit organisation as well as a public-benefit organisation, and can issue Section 18A income tax certificates for donations of R500 and more.
Landi and her team made up of permanent staff and volunteers provide quality home-based palliative care and physical, psychosocial, and spiritual support regardless of race, disease, religion, or socioeconomic situation to patients living in a 30km radius of Nelspruit.
Palliative is derived from the Latin word pallium, which means cloak. Palliative care is, therefore, an extra layer of specialised care that can be provided alongside curative treatments from the start of the diagnosis. The aim of palliative care is to reduce or prevent suffering, and to enhance the quality of life of patients as well as their families.
“I am responsible for the day-to-day management of the organisation. This includes supervising and directing patient care and ensuring that the organisation is financially sustainable,” Landi says.
She also trains volunteers as well as caregivers in hospice palliative care.
An annual fundraising plan is drafted and executed with a group of volunteers to generate income to sustain the organisation.
“Our fundraising events have been well supported by the community and we hope that our upcoming fundraising events will be just as well supported,” she says.
Services rendered by Nelspruit Hospice include home-based care, where professional nurses visit and assess the needs of patients in the comfort of their homes; providing equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, shower and bath chairs, walkers, and commodes; collecting specimens, such as blood, from patients at their homes and delivering it to the laboratory to save them money, and prevents exposure to people with colds and other diseases; and supporting the families of patients. Trained caregivers are also placed with patients to help care and support the patient and relieve the pressure of the family. The caregivers are supervised by professional nurses who support and direct their care.
“Once a month we have a wellness day where current patients, patients in remission, or family members who have lost a loved one come together to socialise. It is a safe space for them to talk about their worries and where they support each other and make new friends. For many it is the highlight of the month,” Landi says.
Landi says a lack of funding, staff and volunteers remain Nelspruit Hospice’s biggest challenge.
“Grants received usually stipulate that it cannot be used to fund salaries or the running costs of the organisation – yet that is sometimes the biggest need. Without staff one cannot deliver a service; without water, electricity, and insurance, no business can survive. Marketing our organisation is therefore absolutely essential,” she says.
The biggest achievements this year have been the increase in volunteers and the extension to Barberton, where a retired nurse, a doctor and a pharmacist offer their services to assist patients. “With the aid of Lotto funding, we initiated a programme to train trained caregivers in hospice palliative care. Not only are their skills and knowledge enhanced, but their employability is improved as they have extra skills that other caregivers do not have. A total of 16 caregivers will be trained by the end of our financial year,” Landi says.
Nelspruit Hospice has cared for 126 patients in the previous financial year. From March to August 2023, halfway through Hospice Nelspruit’s financial year, the organisation has already cared for 129 patients.
For every patient, there are at least two to three family members attached to the patient who also receive care and support.
“Nine out of ten patients indicated that they would prefer to receive care at home, as opposed to a hospital. Who would do that if we were not there?”
Landi says she keeps abreast of new developments by actively participating in the PalPrac WhatsApp group, consisting of palliative-care trained doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and other health professionals. Reading about the different conditions on trusted web pages such as Medscape helps to keep her knowledge up to date.
“Balancing my personal and work life is always a challenge when you work for an NPO, but I do manage to take the odd weekend off and visit a game reserve, or my children,” she says.