8th scene: Hospice Care does not just mean waiting for death

This is Mr. Joseph Khoza. Mr. Khoza was one of our first patients in our Care Centre. In actual fact we were once called by people, who knew we have a hospice and they said: „Look, there is a dying patient and you should look after him and when I came there I saw he, all he had was a stroke and very bad bedsores. So what we did is we took him in and we healed his bedsores and we rehabilitated him that far, that he even was walking again. And then we discharged him home and at a later stage he had another stroke, but the problem was, this time the family wasn’t calling us and he was just lying at home and he was totally neglected. They did not give him food, they did not give him the care he needed and he ended up with very bad bedsores again and he ended up in a very stiff state. I came there when I had a funeral next to his house and the people told me, the people told me that „Don’t you know how sick Mr. Khoza is?“ And I said: „No, I did not know“, and I went in and I saw that he was in a absolute desperate situation. So we took him in again. He, his whole back was full of wounds.

We have closed them all and we are now doing is to rehabilitate him, which means to make at least a rest of movement for him possible. And even if you say „o.k. he is an old man and he can’t do much, we still have to try because the less he moves the more pain he gets and the more stiff he gets. So we try to rehabilitate him by doing exercises to loosen his joints and to make his life a little bit more worthwhile living.“

One could ask, “why do we do more than pain control and wait for his death, when we admit a terminal patient to the Hospice, who is in the final stages of AIDS?”


Firstly it is our experience that patients who came to us in an absolutely miserable condition, where one really thought that they would die within the next few days, frequently even improved when they received the correct medication, pain killers and especially, if indicated, Tuberculostatics and antibiotics against other infectious diseases.


We have made the experience that many patients improved tremendously, even so far that patients could be discharged home again.

Although they still suffer from AIDS, they felt so well, that they did not have to be inpatients in a hospice any longer, but were able to return to their own families again.

 Why is it necessary that we do occupational therapy with them? For example that we play with them, talk with them, that we just want to create a family atmosphere here?

We do not want to appear like a hospital. Our house has a family atmosphere, where we sing together, dance together, eat together, spend our day together in a very normal way, as it would happen in a family setting.

In so far this occupational therapy is a very important task, it also prevents the patients from just lying in bed and waiting for death.

 It also helps to occupy their thoughts, to make them realise “My last days, weeks or months are not just waiting for death, but it is a life filled with aims.” If we succeed in this, to make the people living the last days and weeks of their lives as worthwhile as possible, then, I think, we have fulfilled a very important mission.

There are several reasons why we do exercises with our patients. One reason is the nature of the Zulu. The sick Zulu has the attitude “Now I will lie down, hide in a blanket and wait until it is all over. Then I will get up again and I will be fine.”

And this is exactly not the case with AIDS. One can lie down in bed for as long as one would like, but the disease will not be cured by practically cutting oneself off from the outside world, by staying in bed and not moving.

The other reason also has a psychological background. It is important that the patients feel “I am not in a death machine now, where I cannot leave the rail leading to Auschwitz, neither to the left nor to the right, but it ends in that gas chamber where I die.”

This is exactly what we do not want an AIDS patient to feel, but we want to make him enjoy his life, we want to show him that he can spend these last weeks and months of his life really alive, as a person who participates fully and moving is part of this. Not that one would spend the whole day in bed, but that one would actually move.

This page is part of "An Everlasting Brotherhood" - Video film about the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard

This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:09.

Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard