Nurse rewarded for years of caring

Nurse Jeanette Oliphant of the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Mitchells Plain.

Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre nurse Jeanette Oliphant, 53, who has more than 30 years experience under her belt, was nominated for the Cecilia Makiwane Nurse’s Recognition Award recently.

At the awards ceremony, hosted by the Department of Health on Friday October 21. Ms Oliphant was among the top 10 nominees in the running.

The awards, named for Cecilia Makiwane who was the first registered professional black nurse in South Africa, recognises the tireless work done by the Western Cape Department of Health’s
12 898 nurses and rewards those nurses who walk the extra mile with their patients.

Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said caring, competence, accountability, integrity, responsiveness, respect and innovation were integral values shared by the department and its staff.

“These values are what drive the Western Cape Government Health towards delivering excellent person-centred care to our patients. Nowhere else are these values more important than with the nursing profession. Nurses are the foot soldiers of the health system, its backbone, the first point of contact for our patients and they determine the experience of every patient in our care,” she said

Ms Oliphant said she enjoyed working in the health industry and most importantly, helping people. She started working as a nurse at Tygerberg Hospital in 1982 and has been at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, in Lentegeur for nine years.

“At the age of 12 my mother was admitted to hospital. I noticed how well they took care of my mother – how helpful, caring and passionate they were. They inspired me and then years later I was a nurse,” she said.

Ms Oliphant serves her community, in Malibu Village, Blue Downs, without remuneration, visiting those with disabilities and their families to educate and upskill them in caring for a person with a disability.

Ms Oliphant said she wanted to improve the quality of life and independence of many individuals with disabilities. “I am dedicated to making a difference in my community. Many families are affected by unemployment, financial difficulty, substance and physical abuse. I regularly volunteer in a number of churches and youth programmes, to assist community members who require guidance or advice.

“My return on investment has always been the reassurance that I have made a difference. I hope to continue giving back to my community even after my retirement,” she said.

The nomination for the nursing award, she said, had come as a surprise. “I was stunned when I heard that I was in the top 10. I am honoured and will continue to do my best at my job,” she said.

Dr Beth Engelbrecht, head of the provincial health department, said providing quality healthcare to 75 percent of the Western Cape’s population was not easy, but having a committed nursing force who were dedicated to their work, put the department in good stead to overcome any challenge. “Our department is fortunate to be able to boast about such a calibre of nurses in the province. That is why we recognise their selfless work and commitment, not only to the department, but also to each patient, their families, their friends and communities as a whole,” she said.