My journey at SLCH started in Sep 2018 when I was elected as a board member on the Property Board. I had been referred by a former colleague who currently still sits on the board as he knew how much I am involved in community work by volunteering for various organisations over many years.
My name is Christolina M Francis, popularly known as Chrissy. I’m a Social Worker, graduated from UWC, Mom to two adult children and grandma to a 5yr old grandson. I live in the Southern Suburbs. I worked at CAFDA before in the Statutory, Foster care and the Community Development field.
In Sep 2019 I took part of the Mrs Universe SA 2019 as a finalist in hijab, and was overwhelmed by the support received from my SLCH family. In the short time that I have been here, I have already gained such a strong bond of kinship and know that this is where I belong.
I started employment at St. Luke’s Combined Hospice on 08 February 2011, three months after my husband died. A friend of mine told me about the vacancy at St. Luke’s Hospice and I applied. I came for the interview and I’m still here – 2019.
Coming from a Statutory field into a Medical and on top of that Palliative Care, I had to adapt very quickly, and yes many a challenge did I have and many a mountain/hill I had to climb (still climbing), but with good support from the team and the encouragement I received from the patients and the situation they find themselves I pushed on and even started working much harder. I am working in the Mitchell’s Plain area, where poverty, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, substance abuse and unemployment is rife. Looking back now it was trial and error, learning so much and getting used to working a different way and appreciate it working in a team. I am still learning a lot and seeing the appreciation and gratitude from the patients and their families for the service delivered and the way things are done by the team is priceless. Working with people who are staring death in the eye and being told that there is nothing that can be done for them anymore, is a privilege and it takes you on a journey like no other and not always privy to all.
I’ve learnt a lot from the patients about perseverance, patience, never giving up, to appreciate life and others, being respectful, not judging and to love and give unconditionally. I always tell the patients that they are my motivation to come to work every day and give me the inspiration to deliver a service worthy and dignified to them.
Working at St. Luke’s Combined Hospice, which I only came to know in 2005 when a friend of mine died in IPU, has given me so much to think about and had me done so much exploring and introspection.
People think when you mention the name Hospice that it means death. This is the hope, I feel, that the patients and family have to quality of life and making life-changing decisions. They are told many a times at the Hospital that there is nothing more than can be done for them, sending them to despair and even feeling hopeless. In the end the team(IDT) have to strengthen family bonds and empower patients and families to work and do what is needed for the patient and themselves. For the team it is all about what is in the best interest of the patient and supporting the patient and family the best we can.
We do what we can in the time given to us in order to provide quality of life for the patients and their families.