UWC goes all out to care for the carers

From left are Arisen Women care workers, Gaylene Abrahams, Roxanne Hartzenberg, Marshaline Harding and Thandokazi Ngwendula.

Students and staff at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) brought health services to care workers in Mitchell’s Plain – a gesture greatly appreciated by the carers.

UWC’s faculties of Community and Health Sciences, Law, Dentistry and Science provided services to 140 carers at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital on Wednesday April 14 and Thursday April 15.

UWC has been working in the Mitchell’s Plain community for over 20 years, placing health sciences students at various community organisations and institutions to deliver health and social care programmes that benefit the community and university students.

They held health screenings, had wellness, therapeutic and dental talks and provided legal counselling services to the women and men who work tirelessly as community rehabilitation workers and home-based carers.

These carers are often on the front line and are the first contact for many in the community with the health and social care system.

“We know that those who provide care to others as a carer, often fail to set aside the time and resources for their own self-care,” said Claudia Swinny, UWC associate lecturer and outreach co-ordinator for the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences.

“This engagement comes out of having identified that the home-based carers and community rehabilitation workers are an essential part of the health workforce in South Africa. They are on the front line of bringing health and wellness services to the communities and currently are major role-players in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in communities,” said Ms Swinny.

They understand and respond to the needs of the carers, she said.

Dr James Campbell, of UWC’s School of Natural Medicine, said it took them a while to get the clinic up and running. “We are proud to be serving the carers,” he said.

Nursing student Silibaziso Mupereki said it was interesting working in the clinics with the carers, learning from them and hearing their insight and experience was essential.

Fellow nursing student Stacey Maggot said even though they are community workers they are learning too.

Physio student Palesa Sithole said they’ve given individual attention to the care workers. Their services are readily available to them and it was a pleasure to serve them.

Facilitator and care worker at Arisen Women, Marshaline Harding, said she was excited and blessed to be served in this way. “We work so hard and it’s nice to see that what we do is appreciated. Nobody did this for us before. Normally we would be the ones caring. It feels different to be cared for in this way,” she said.

Home-based carer at Arisen Women, Roxanne Hartzenberg said it was a great experience to be cared for by the UWC team.

Rehabilitation care worker at YMCA Athlone, Ansaar Hendricks, said it was a nice break from their work. “We do need these services from time to time, it helps us. This is heaven for me. Our job is challenging at times but their services to us is appreciated,” he said.

Hazel Marco, rehabilitation care worker at YMCA Athlone, said it was a beautiful experience for them as care workers to be pampered by the students and staff.

Wiseman Nogaya, rehabilitation care worker at YMCA Athlone, said they don’t get to check themselves as often and they got an opportunity to do so on Wednesday April 14.

Lecturer at UWC, Labeeqah Jaffer, said care workers are often forgotten or seen as the strong ones. “The question is, who cares for the care workers? Their work is so important that they never take the time out to take care of themselves. It will be a ripple effect, if the carer isn’t cared for, it ripples. The important thing is to give back and serve them,” she said.

They have services to the public from Monday to Friday observing Covid-19 protocols. For more information on this, contact the director of the school of Natural Medicine is Dr Kristian Leisegang at kleisegang@uwc.ac.za, or the administrative officer Lameesa Fuller at lfuller@uwc.ac.za or the administrative assistant, Wayne Snell at wsnell@uwc.ac.za