If ever there was a testament to excellent palliative care, then it must be in the case of FWC Hospice patient, Cynthia Bond (74), who has been bedridden for the past 16 years, yet has not once suffered from a bed sore and still greets anyone who enters her room with a big smile and a sparkle in her eye.

Cynthia was diagnosed with an acute form of Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2014, which, according to her niece Delicia Okkers, started with her struggling to talk. “It escalated very quickly, where she couldn’t walk any more. I tried to take care of her, but it became very difficult as she reached a point where she couldn’t move at all.”

Delicia’s brother, Selwyn Pandy, contacted FWC Hospice Care Centre in Hursthill and Cynthia was admitted as a long-term patient, where she’s been taken care of for the past six years.

‘Taking care’ doesn’t quite sum up the actual care given to Cynthia, however. With her being completely immobile – only able to move her head without experiencing excruciating pain – it becomes quite a challenge to keep her relatively active and occupied during the never-ending hours in her bed.

According to caregiver Peggy Forster at FWC Hospice, Cynthia has to be turned as regularly as possible, even though she experiences terrible pain in the process. “Her body is completely rigid and if you try to move her or change her position, she literally cries out in pain. Unfortunately, this has to be done to prevent bed sores,” Peggy explains.

The team at FWC Hospice have also come up with some innovative methods to assist Cynthia. As she is unable to speak, they use an alphabet board where they point to the letters. Cynthia then indicates through some noise if they are on the right letter. “We have come up with some basic sentences and will understand what she says once the letter has been ‘approved’ by Cynthia,” says Peggy.

On the day of our visit, the hospice staff arranged a WhatsApp video call to Delicia, so that Cynthia could have a chat with her beloved niece. “We absolutely love Aunty Cynthia. She was our mother when our own mother, her twin sister, fell ill with very much the same disease. She unfortunately passed away after developing septicemia because of untreated bed sores,” Delicia explains.

Volunteer and famous screen writer, Hanneke Schutte, often pops in to read to Cynthia, who absolutely loves a good book. “Nothing brings me more joy than to see Cynthia’s face light up when we get to a good part in the story. We’ve laughed and cried and I always look forward to seeing where the next book will take us,” she shares.

If you can, in any way, assist towards the care of patients such as Cynthia, kindly contact FWC Hospice on 011 837 2999 or visit https://www.backabuddy.co.za/senses

With the help of her alphabet board and the assistance of caregiver Peggy Forster, Cynthia Bond is able to communicate with her niece, Delicia Okkers via a Whatsapp video call. General Manager of FWC Hospice, Liezl Kennedy making sure the call stays connected,