Helderberg Hospice connects family with patients

Michelle Gordon makes a video call to family with a recovering patient at Helderberg Hospital.

Families need each other’s support more than ever in these difficult times, and it gets even more difficult when a person finds out they have tested positive for Covid-19, and have to isolate.

Being tested positive means that you have to isolated from other people, including family and friends, for ten days from the day that you tested positive.

As Covid-19 can be severe, some people are hospitalised for further care. This means that they are alone and cannot be visited by relatives due to visitor restrictions at public hospitals. People who are hospitalised can feel very isolated and alone.

This is where Michelle Gordon from Helderberg Hospital fills a very important role. Michelle specialises in closing that gap between Covid-19 patients and their families during their hospitalisation.

She is a voluntary social worker at Helderberg Hospital. She started offering her voluntary services at the beginning of 2021 when she realised that patients need medical and emotional care.

“I wanted to help the people who are affected during this hard time. I have the skills and training and I felt strongly to be part of this service,” explains Michelle. “It is hard for families who cannot visit and don’t know how their loved one is coping emotionally.”

Helderberg Hospital supports Michelle’s initiative, and has made a phone available for the patients to make contact with families at home through video calls. “This gives much needed relief to both the family and the patient. It is a beautiful thing to see a patient making contact with family. It’s quite an emotional experience,” says Michelle.

Being hospitalised with severe Covid-19 can pose some challenges when it comes to communicating, especially when patients are very short of breath or on oxygen.

“Patients sometimes have to show their smile and use had gestures when it is too difficult to speak on the phone with their masks on for oxygen,” explains Michelle. However, just seeing their loved ones can make a difference in their wellbeing.

“Isolation and hospitalisation is emotionally hard. Not being able to see or connect with your loved ones when you really need their support is hard. We need to look after a patient’s emotional health as well, which is why we facilitate that virtual connection.

“There is a positive impact when patients hear familiar voices and see familiar faces and that brings smiles to people. The interaction helps uplift their spirit during their stay in hospital,” adds Michelle.

You can keep your family safe by avoiding social gatherings, always wearing your mask when leaving your house, staying 1.5m from other people, and staying home when you feel sick. If you have difficulty breathing or chest pain, seek urgent medical care. You call an ambulance on 10177 or go to your nearest Emergency Centre.

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