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Low Occupancy leads CANSA to close Care Home in Richards Bay

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) announces that the Richards Bay Care Home, will be closing at the end of June 2024. Private oncologists will continue to assist their patients with accommodation as they have been doing, while state patients who are referred to Durban for treatment, will be accommodated at our CANSA Mkhuhla Care Home.

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“Over the past two years, referrals to the Care Home have been too low for us to keep the facility open,” says Lisa Strydom, CANSA National Manager: Care and Support.

“We know that the need for care facilities like the Care Home, is greater in Durban and Pietermaritzburg and we’re looking at the possibility of opening up an additional facility to serve Pietermaritzburg later this year.”

The property was originally donated by BHP Billiton Aluminium in 2009 to CANSA, as a commitment to cancer care in the area. However, it was situated in Empangeni and was too far from treatment centres. It was later sold (with consent from BHP) and the proceeds used to buy a property in town near to the hospital.  A suitable property which met all the requirements was found, however, CANSA was short on the full purchase fee.

“We were then approached by Freddy Schoonhoven who offered the short fall, in honour of his father who passed due to cancer. The family was consulted in late 2023, about the intended sale of the property and agreed in principle to the relocation of the Home to Pietermaritzburg. They are happy that CANSA will keep their father’s legacy alive by continuing with the name ‘CANSA Schoonies Care Home,” explained Strydom.

CANSA Care Homes provide very affordable accommodation and sometimes free board and lodging (patient income is taken into account) for patients undergoing long-term (six to eight weeks) oncology treatments at hospitals far from where they live and who can’t afford to stay in hotels or bed-and- breakfast facilities.

For example, radiotherapy treatment is usually given daily for about six weeks. Patients living in far-flung areas like Newcastle or Vryheid can’t do a three-to-five-hour one-way commute to Pietermaritzburg or Durban each day to receive their treatment. The proposed move to Pietermaritzburg will be available to state and private patients in the city.

Patients, who cannot afford accommodation costs and receive their treatments in the Durban-based hospitals and other medical facilities are currently accommodated at CANSA’s Mkhuhla Care Home in Umbilo.

The CANSA Care Homes charge residents according to whether they are on medical aids or not. Those who do have medical insurance, pay medical aid rates, while others pay low reasonable rates a day and state patients are asked to make a donation according to what they can afford.

Facilities and services provided by the CANSA Care Homes include access to balanced meals (some may be self-catering); some rooms with their own bathrooms; communal lounges and dining rooms; free transport to and from treatment centres; affordable medical equipment hire; nominally priced assistive devices, such as, wigs and breast prostheses; information; emotional and spiritual support; and recreational activities, such as, arts and crafts, and free outings.

Strydom adds, “CANSA welcomes partners or donors who would like to assist with the running and maintaining of our Care Homes.  The service is unique and critically important to cancer patients, who don’t have a place to stay while undergoing treatment and need support, comfort and care.  Help us to make their stay and experience a positive one, regarding physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.”

Patients can either be referred to CANSA Care Homes by the medical facility where they are undergoing treatment, or they can contact CANSA direct. For more information and contact details go cansa.org.za or mail info@cansa.org.za or call the Help Desk on 0800 22 66 22.

(For more information, please contact Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email lbalona@cansa.org.za. Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.)

CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

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