An Introduction - The Lighthouse Hospice Beginnings

After a Public meeting in Scottburgh, Lighthouse Hospice was founded in 1985 to care for the terminally ill and their families in the area from Kingsburgh in the north to Mtwalume in the south, and inland as far as Braemar. The community quickly became involved, and supported Lighthouse Hospice in vigorous fundraising efforts. Initially only Home-Care was offered, and because of community support, premises were purchased in Winder Street, Umkomaas. All activities were run from this "Head Office".

Bowing to pressure from the community to "open" the Home, and provide In-Patient care. Lighthouse Home opened in November 1988 for its first In-Patient. Initially staffed solely by volunteers, it soon became necessary to employ part time Professional Staff in the mornings and nights to provide continuity, and to be responsible for the running of the unit from a legal aspect. All afternoon shifts and Home-Care were still carried out by dedicated volunteers, both professional nurses and lay people. The workload increased and 24 hour paid staff became necessary. Trying to bring salaries into line with the provincial hospitals placed a tremendous burden on fundraising efforts, but the community still managed to find enough money to allow the service to continue to grow and improve.

In 1990 a paid part-time Administrator was appointed, and this post soon became a full time position. The area of operation increased to include Amanzimtoti as the population there preferred to "belong" to the upper south coast rather than the metropolitan area of Durban. (Quieter traffic for senior citizens who no longer drive in city traffic conditions) In November 1996 a Home Care Sister was appointed, and a vehicle was purchased to enable her to get to her patients. Although the volunteers were still very much involved, the overall responsibility for Patient Care shifted to paid employees. Over the years, volunteers were trained as Caregivers by completing a basic In-House Caregivers course, and having continuing education updates monthly.

With the rapid increase in HIV/AIDS, more education became essential, and an Education Department was created, and and Education Officer was appointed. This department constantly changes to meet the needs of the community. Currently, and in the foreseeable future, there is a desperate need to educate communities to cope with the anticipated increase in the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS. Members of all communities must be educated to care properly for people living with HIV/AIDS in their communities. Hospice education courses for care-givers will enable community workers to carry out this work under the direction of Hospice Staff.

In November 1999 a new Constitution was approved and adopted, which prepared the way for Lighthouse Hospice to become registered as a Section 21 Company. This registration was granted in October 2001. The Management Committee was dissolved, and a Board of Directors accepted appointment. The Administrator was appointed Chief Executive Officer, and a Management Committee consisting of Departmental Heads was authorised to deal with the day to day running of the Hospice. Lighthouse Hospice receives no government funding, and relies solely on donations and fundraising to operate.

We do have a certificate of exemption from Income Tax under Section 10F of the Income Tax Act. An NPO number replaced our Fundraising number from the Department of Welfare in March 2000.

Because of financial constraints, it became necessary to restructure the service in March 2002. The In-patient unit was closed, and the Home-Based Care programme increased. It is more cost effective to care for a greater number of patients at home than only 4 in the in-bed unit, which had to be staffed 24/7. The restructuring has meant a greater need for home-based care volunteers, and therefore training courses have even greater importance.


The Need
Our area of operation is the upper south coast of KwaZuluNatal. There are many porverty stricken communinities and, apart from Sappi in Umkomaas, very little industry south of Prospecton. The infrastructure is almost non-existent and any walk for miles to fetch water. The scourge of HIV/AIDS is most prevalent in the rural communities, and the need for Home-Based care is greatest in our province. The number of confirmed cases has reached epic proportions, and it is our opinion that there are far more undisclosed cases because of the stigma associated with the disease. Some of our patients have been ostracized by their communities, and even beaten by their families and thrown out of the house. By educating the communities in Home Based care and prevention of the spread of the disease, we hope to make a difference to the future generations.

The Government is still prevaricating over the provision of anti-retroviral drugs for those patients who can still be helped. The government's next priority is educating communities to prevent the spread of the virus, and future priority will be the care of untold thousands of AIDS orphans. We deal with those patients for whom there is no cure, so the possibility of funding for terminal care is very slight. We have a close working relationship with the provincial hospital in Scottburgh, and have been involved in discussions regarding a future partnership which will involve being able to open our beds again. These talks are in the very early stages, and as government health departments move extremely slowly, it could be two years before things come to fruition. "

As this is part of an on-going existing programme, there cannot be a final report on the programme. "

There can be no specific "pre-launch" or "post" communication because there is no end to an on-going programme. However, telephonic and e-mail communication is always welcomed.