Heartlands is located in Somerset West in the Western Cape and is a registered Child and Youth Care Centre and a Paediatric Hospice. It provides short term residential care for abandoned, abused, neglected children and children diagnosed with life limiting and life threatening illnesses such as Malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Tuberculosis and other illnesses.
As you enter the doors of Heartlands Baby Sanctuary you are greeted with a cacophony of sounds: babies crying for a cuddle or a bottle, small steps taken by children learning to walk, excited chatter from the children on their way to the nursery school and sing along to nursery rhymes or friendly greetings of staff going about their daily tasks. The children’s stories may vary from abuse to neglect, being orphaned to having a terminal illness but they all have one thing in common
. . . it is every child’s birth-right to belong.
At Heartlands Baby Sanctuary our main aim is to return children in our care to the community, either through reunification, fostering or adoption, giving them again the loving gentleness of a mother`s touch, the warmth and security of a family.
Specialised Child Care
The Child and Youth Care Centre and Hospice provide special care to children:
- In the Western Cape and surrounding areas
- Birth to 6 years old
- Chronically or acutely ill
- Children with life limiting and life-threatening illnesses
- Children suffering from other illnesses, like malnutrition, TB, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) who cannot be cared for in the community.
Qualified Nursing Care
A qualified nursing sister heads up the hospice assisted by a medical doctor and four teams of medically trained personnel, comprising of a staff nurse and four child care workers, staff the Child and Youth Care Centre and Paediatric hospice on a 24-hour shift basis.
Heartlands Baby Sanctuary is functioning in close collaboration with the Helderberg Hospital as well as with Tygerberg Hospital, Grootte Schuur and Children’s Red Cross Hospital. Children are referred to the hospice via state hospitals, other childcare agencies and institutions, and the South African Police Services.
The hospice's turnover has always been high, indicating that the facility is being utilized to its full potential. On average 6-9 children are being admitted and discharged per month. This consequently has led to an increase in demand for our services, so the unit always runs at full capacity and even more.
The centre is based in Somerset West and offers services to the whole of the Western Cape and surrounding areas.
Place of Safety
Heartlands is not a Children`s Home but a Centre that provides a temporary emergency place of safety for babies and children from birth to six years of age, who have been abused, abandoned and orphaned. Children are removed by child care agencies, institutions and the South African police services. Every effort is implemented to restrict the stay of the child as short as possible as the most desirable option for a child is to be given the “birth right to belong and be reunited with a loving and respectful family”.
In light of this, we operate with the focus on healing and building resilience within the child. Heartlands strives to ensure that the care children receive in the residential centre approximates family life, in that children’s experiences are normalised as far as possible, exposing them to similar experiences as children living in the community.
Heartlands is an organisation that provides paediatric palliative care services, both within a residential and community setting. We care for children with a range of life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses, including cancer, leukaemia, metachromatic leukodystrophy, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS.
Our aim is to provide integrated, holistic care to children and their families, by providing services and interventions encompassing health, developmental and psychosocial aspects. The good news is that, while of course children`s palliative care can be very challenging, with that challenge comes a profound satisfaction and a sense of achievement.
Children`s palliative care is a philosophy of care and not necessary a place of care and the focus is very much on improving the child’s quality of life; on making the best of the situation they are faced with. Palliative care involves the active use of medications and techniques to treat pain and any other symptoms that prevent the child’s enjoyment of life. It provides social, emotional, cultural and spiritual support to the sick child, their parents and siblings. By ensuring that all aspects of pain are dealt with by this holistic approach to pain treatment we aim to make each child’s life as comfortable as possible with us in a loving and caring environment despite the nature of their illness.
Placement of children
Reunification with families - Parents, wherever possible, will be counselled and assisted by the referring agency to overcome the difficulties that gave rise to their children’s predicament. If parents are successfully rehabilitated, their children can return home with the approval of the children`s court which approved the permanency plan concerned. If not, and parents are declared unfit, alternative community placements with loving families (either through foster care or adoption) are arranged.
Foster Care - we network closely with the local social work agencies to find suitable foster parents for the children identified for foster care placement.
Adoption - If children in our care are legally available for adoption, (being abandoned, orphans or the parents signed consent for adoption) we recruit and network with other agencies doing adoptions for placement of children.
Alternative Institutional Placements - Some children, particularly those who have a serious disability and require intensive nursing care need to be placed in long term facilities that cater for their needs.
Early Childhood Stimulation
We provide stimulation programmes to minimise developmental delays. When a child is admitted he or she is assessed by a physiotherapist. An individual development plan is drawn up to include stimulation activities recommended by the physiotherapist at the Interdisciplinary meeting and reviewed once a month.
A daily stimulation programme is in place for all children. Stimulation charts are placed next to children’s` beds so that stimulation activities can be done daily by Child and Youth Care Workers and volunteers. Physiotherapist does exercises with children once a week. She also demonstrates to staff and volunteers how to do the daily stimulation activities and exercises with the children.
In order to provide quality palliative care a multi-disciplinary care team, consisting of the social worker, professional nurse, medical doctor, Child and Youth Care Worker, primary care giver and any other person who works with the child directly, meet on a regular basis to review the care plan in order to ensure progress of the child. All staff employed at Heartlands have received relevant palliative care training.
Children will be cared for until they can be reunited with their families or until alternative suitable community placements can be arranged.
As far as possible, we attempt to ensure that the care children receive approximates family life, in that children’s experiences are normalised as far as possible, exposing them to similar experiences as children living in the community. The focus is on limiting the impact of institutionalisation and this is accomplished by using volunteers to support our regular staff and by restricting the duration of the children’s stay in the sanctuary as much as possible
Children from 3 to 4 years are encouraged to participate in the daily stimulation program that provide essential learning experiences through play opportunities and everyday life activities, which foster growth and development.
The Community Care program operates under the guidance of a professional nurse and social worker, who visits the child and their primary care giver in the community after the child was cared for by Heartlands In-patient –unit and later placed back with their family or into foster care.
It provides a more effective home support program for terminally ill children and the family are trained on pain management and also receive bereavement counselling for if and when death occurs.
Help Us Reach Our Goal
Heartlands Baby Sanctuary's main aim is to return children in our care to the community, either through reunification, fostering or adoption, giving them the warmth and security of a family.Donate now
Children are referred to Heartlands Baby Sanctuary by hospitals, clinics, social workers and brought by SAPS for emergency placements after hours. Children are placed with a court order, in cooperation with social workers rendering services in the area that the child comes from. When a child is terminally ill, the parents may sign consent for admission.
Our first aim is to return children to their own families. If that is not possible, children can be placed in foster care or be adopted (if they are legally adoptable). Children are sometimes transferred to other children’s homes when no other option is viable.
The children are only placed in temporary safe care in Heartlands Baby Sanctuary for 3 months. Since it is not a long term placement, we do not use weekend and holiday parents for the children.
Yes we do receive funding from the government, but this only covers 17% of our expenses. Therefore additional funding is required through corporate and individual relationship building, fundraising events and international donor involvements.
Companies/Individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations such as Heartlands Baby Sanctuary, develop win-win partnerships in which companies/individuals benefit as a result of their support, as per ways identified by the Heartlands team. The most immediate benefit to Heartlands would be financial — based on either a donation or sponsorship of a project.
Benefits to the Company/individual are numerous, depending on the type of donation: Project sponsorships are mentioned on social media, which would include the company’s/individual`s details. The inclusion of the company/individual name, logo and details of the donation on the Heartlands Website visited by national and international companies and individuals.
The company`s signage/individual`s name placed on acknowledgement wall inside as well as outside. Companies can also claim Broad Based Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard points for financial support to Heartlands project In terms of Section 18(a) of the South African Income Tax Act of 1962, financial donation to Heartlands is tax deductible.
Paediatric Palliative Care is not just about dying. It is applicable to children living with life limiting and life threatening illnesses from the time of diagnosis. The whole essence of palliative care for children is all about relief and suffering: not only that of the child but also his/her family in whatever form that may take. It is also about . . .”we will do all we can, not only to help the child die peacefully, but also to help the child live until he/she dies”