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CANSA Service Spotlight – Gavin Kester Service Manager CANSA Care Homes

Gavin Kester

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in a small mining town in the Northern Cape and studied in the Western Cape, completing my National Diploma in Public Health at the then Peninsula Technicon in 1988.

I graduated in 2016 from the Foundation for Professional Development, Business School, completing The Advance Health Management Programme, co-certified with Yale University USA, Cum Laude.

I started my career as an Environmental Health Practitioner (then named Health Inspector) at local government level (municipalities in the Western and Northern Cape provinces).  Thereafter, I accepted the position of Regional Manager in Provincial Administration, Department of Health – Northern Cape, in the Namakwa District until 2005.

During my time with the Department of Health I was fortunate to attend training on Community Health in Ghana and Japan.

From the 1st of July 2005, I joined CANSA as a Regional Manager and was subsequently promoted to National Service Manager: CANSA Care Homes.

How long have you been working for CANSA?

I started 1 July 2005 until 31 September 2016 and then from 1 May 2017 to the current day.

What do you like most about your position?

As the Service Manager: CANSA Care Homes I am able, along with Care Home staff and volunteers to make a huge difference in so many cancer patients’ lives.  With our CANSA Care Homes we ensure that patients are given the opportunity to receive and complete their cancer treatment, which would not be possible if there were no place to stay close to treatment centres.

What inspires you?

Nelson Mandela is and will always be inspirational as he was a leader that “walked the walk and talked the talk”.

As a leader it is important to get things done – to translate strategy into achievable actions and motivate and empower my team to achieve our goals.  We must always care for our patients and walk the extra mile for them.

It is always fulfilling when you see patients complete their treatment and give testimonies about how their stay at our Care Homes encouraged them.

Please tell me more about the importance of the CANSA Care Homes for the community

Our CANSA Care Homes provide home-from-home accommodation to patients undergoing cancer treatment at oncology treatment centres far from their homes.

Patients at our CANSA Care Homes stay for an average of six weeks, with transport provided to and from treatment centres.

There are currently 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas (Athlone, Tygerberg Hospital in Bellville, George, Gqeberha, Bloemfontein, Durban, Richards Bay, and Pretoria). Two are self-catering, while patients also receive meals at the other six CANSA Care Homes.

Emotional support and information regarding cancer are provided to patients during their stay.

Is there anything you’d like to add? 

We aim for our CANSA Care Homes to continue being a home-away-from-home to patients by enabling these facilities to be self-sufficient.

As with many other businesses, loadshedding and drought have negatively impacted the service we provide.

I’d like to appeal to the public and workplaces to sponsor their nearest CANSA Care Home with solar power (panels) / generators and water tanks to minimise discomfort to patients during their stay.

Individual wish lists indicating the needs per CANSA Care Home with regards to in-kind donations, may be found on each CANSA Care Home’s web page.

Those who wish to sponsor these items are welcome to contact me at gkester@cansa.org.za 

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