End of Life Care: A taboo no-one talks about | #eBizPayItForward | Ronita Mahilall



St Luke’s is a philosophy, not a place.

In keeping with the changes which have revolutionised South African society, St Luke’s sees a vital role for itself as a community based primary health care organisation, sharing the load with state-funded medical services, which are being strained to breaking point.

Our journey began when Christine Dare, an English medical student visited Cape Town in the late 1970s. She had worked with Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern-day Hospice movement*, and her visit ignited the need to cater for patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses.

St Luke’s was founded on 13 August 1980, initially operating out of Vincent Pallotti Hospital and then Observatory, before finding a permanent home in Kenilworth in 1986.

In the early 1990s, St Luke’s took a decision to bring care to a wider community and over time opened community hospices in:

  • Athlone
  • False Bay
  • Grassy Park
  • Gugulethu
  • Khayelitsha
  • Plumstead
  • Mitchells Plain
  • West Coast

The community hospices enable us to cater for the specific needs of each community, with due regard to socio-cultural needs. Each community hospice is made up of volunteers, usually from that community, that run the services alongside our staff. These services include day hospice facilities as well as support for patients in their own homes.


PayItForwardRonita Mahilall in conversation with eBizRadio’s Nic von Stein

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Currently, we care for over 500 homecare patients every month through our satellite community day hospices located in certain areas of greater Cape Town and we have a 10-bed in-patient unit in Kenilworth and Khayelitsha, where patients can be admitted for a maximum of two weeks.

We employ highly dedicated and qualified nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual counsellors and community health workers – most with expert palliative care training – and our volunteers assist staff members in various aspects of care and fundraising.

Our services include quality nursing support, physical, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual care and bereavement support for patients and their families.

We are a registered non-profit company in terms of the Companies Act, allowing us to raise money from the public sector by means of donations or fundraising events.

What sets St Luke’s Combined Hospices apart from almost every other organisation is the total dedication of our staff and the love we have for our work – it is something palpable, which reaches out into every aspect of the service.


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