Play highlights role of clinics in palliative care

Rehearsing the play at the Heideveld clinic, from left, are Summer Abrahams, 23, from Walmer Estate; Maiya Harvey, 22, from Gardens; Joshua Mol, 21, from Pinelands; Dineo Qotu, 22, from Observatory; Suvina Chanerika, 22, from Observatory; Alexander Aron-Johnson, 22, from Gardens; and Jasmine Volker 22, from Table View.

A new play about palliative care will be performed in Heideveld before doing the rounds at other health-care facilities across Cape Town.

The play, Palliative Care, is performed by six fourth-year UCT medical students, and they could be found rehearsing it at the Heideveld clinic on Tuesday July 26.

Many people don’t know that a palliative-care service is provided at clinics, and the play hopes to change this, says Baheya Najaar, the Heideveld site facilitator for UCT’s primary health-care directorate.

“My role is to identify potential projects and connect them with community projects.”

The students have been handing out flyers to Heideveld residents, informing them about palliative care.

They had found that many did not know what palliative care was or how to access it, said Summer Abrahams, 23, from Walmer Estate, who plays the role of a patient diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease.

“We chose this topic because the community needs to learn about palliative care. There is a knowledge gap where that is concerned,” she said, adding that the other reason for the play was that the palliative-care unit at the Heideveld clinic was expanding.

The flyers explain that palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of patients who are facing daily, life-threatening illnesses while helping their families and caregivers.

Alexander Aron-Johnson, 22, from Gardens, plays the role of a grieving patient suffering the loss of a loved one.

“It is something that is needed in the area, and, in this way, residents can advocate for their own services and what it means,” he said.

Suvina Chanerika, 22, from Observatory, who plays a doctor, said residents she had given flyers to had not known about the clinic’s palliative-care service.

Joshua Mol, 21, from Pinelands, who plays a doctor, believes the play will help to strip away the stigma around palliative care.

“It is important for residents to know that there are services that will help them.”

Dineo Qotu, 22, from Observatory, who plays the role of a patient suffering from abnormally prolonged grief, said palliative care was about both the patients and their families.

“They should allow family members in as well so that they understand the process that will follow.”

Jasmine Volker 22, from Table View, who plays a teenage mom, said they would like to perform the play at all health-care facilities “especially low income communities and those who require palliative care”.

Joshua Mol, 21, from Pinelands, left, and Summer Abrahams, 23, from Walmer Estate.