The Children’s Home has been a well-known beacon in the community of George and over the years has played an important role in hundreds of children’s lives. The task of educating, stimulating and developing traumatized children has always been a challenging albeit very rewarding endeavor; and this has proven to be the life-line and example for the rest of the organization and the communities involved with the children’s home.
The broad history of the Children’s Home can be illustrated by the following time-line:11 March 1929 – Pallottini Sisters (nuns) open St Mary’s school for 35 children May 1929 – The sisters take in 3 orphans and thus the Children’s Home begins to operate Oct 1929 – The sisters now have 35 Orphans and Vulnerable children in their care – The school is still going – The children’s home is self-sufficient with everyone contributing in some way – The children’s home is known as St Mary’s Children’s Home 29 May 1934 – Children’s home is formally recognized by government 1935 – 84 children in the home 10 Nov 1943 – A creche is opened for the pre-school children and they start with 50 attendees 1945 – 120 children in the home (80 girls and 50 boys) – Permanent staff members are appointed – New house is built for the boys and they move in in 1947 – Children were developed to have a sense of individuality with-in the home 1965 – Sr Kaspara is appointed as new principal; she was a trained social worker – New house is built for the girls – Numbers are decreased to 40 boys and 40 girls; to ensure better quality of care – The children’s home is now funded by the government 31 May 1966 – Youngest child ever admitted to the children’s home; a premature 3 day-old 1976 – Number of children again decreased to 40; they share a house divided in 2 sides 1994 – Children’s home now registered for 45 children 2001 – The children’s home is taken over by Cs Medical and Relief Services (CMSR) – The children’s home is thus part of the NPO/Section 21 company as present – The Sisters have grown too old to manage the home and are all retired – A Multi-disciplinary team now carries on the good work 2009 – The Children’s Home celebrates their 80th Birthday – Family House 1 completed and occupied. 2011 – Family House 2 completed and occupied. 2014 – The Children’s Home celebrates their 85th Birthday 2016 – Family House 3 renovated and named 2017 – Child and Youth Care Centre is registered for 38 Children occupying 2 Family Homes 2018 – Complete change in structure after intense Sustainability/Strategic Planning; x2 Live-in Child and Youth Care Workers assisted by x2 Child and Youth Care Assistants – Child and Youth Care Centre is registered for 24 Children occupying 2 Family Homes (Girls – House of Grace and Boys – House of Mercy)
CMSR started in 2000 as a result of the threatening closure of St Mary’s Children’s Home. A Board of directors was founded in an attempt to save the Childrens Home; these founder members were Gordon Fraser (a retired business man), Johan vd Merwe (a reverend), Michiel Burger (a reverend) and Dr Ben Emmink (the chief surgeon of George hospital).
Through the kind mediation of Bishop Adams, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oudtshoorn, the premises surrounding the St Mary’s Children’s Home was made available to the newly founded Board. The Board took over the operational aspects of the childrens’ home and formally registered the organization as Cs Medical and Relief Services trading as CMSR. The latter name was recently changed to Bethesda Medical and Relief Services NPC. The organization was registered as a Section 21 company and a NGO/NPO in 2002. Since then the organization has evolved into a multi-functional structure that is managed by a CEO and that now employs 133 people.
Bethesda In-Patient Unit was opened in February 2002, initially with 10 beds that increased to 20 in 2005 and then to 28 in 2006. The initial focus was HIV/AIDS and Palliative Care. However, after consultation with the Department of Health, it was realised that a need also existed for a sub-acute/step-down facility. Agreements were reached with the Department of Health regarding funding and services were adapted to provide sub-acute care. The need for oncology respite beds was identified in 2006 and 8 more beds were opened in April 2007 bringing the total to 36 beds.
In 2013 the Department of Health yet again upgraded the status of the Unit to an Intermediate Care Facility; thus ensuring that services were formally divided into: (1) Palliative Care; (2) Sub-Acute Care; (3) Rehabilitative- and Restorative Care. After several years of being funded by Global Fund, the Intermediate Care Facility funding was taken over by Department of Health in 2016.
Bethesda Home Community Based Care (HCBC) was established in October 2002 in response to the needs of discharged Bethesda In-patient Unit patients who required ongoing nursing and support after discharge. Recognizing that there were many more patients in the community who were not accessing primary health care services because of poor health, inaccessibility or stigmatization, Bethesda conducted a door to door survey to gain an understanding of the community’s health and social profile. This was an undertaking in consultation with the Primary Health Care clinics. As a result our initial client base was established and 7 Community Care Workers were appointed. In 2006 the Home Community Based Care (HCBC) program qualified for European Union Funding and another 8 Carers were employed.
For the last 5 years we have 25 Community Health Workers and Professional Nurses/Coordinators in the Home Community Based Care division and the program was funded by Department of Health. In 2016 the program was significantly expanded. Currently we have 44 Community Health Workers (CHW) and 3 Supervisory Staff (including 2 Nursing Coordinators) that delivers services in George.
We also coordinate and manage Home Community Based Care services in Uniondale with 23 Community Health Workers and 2 Supervisory Staff (including 1 Nursing Coordinator)
Bethesda directs all actions by Board members, Employees and Patients alike towards the same values and goals:
|Honour||People can believe what we say. Our word is our word|
|Integrity||We will have self-discipline to ensure that what we say and what we do are the same|
|Compassion||All our actions are done with love and empathy|
|Belief||We as a Christian faith-based organization trust in and are led by God, our cornerstone|
|Respect||We shall act fairly and considerately towards each other and our clients|
|Transparency||We shall have open and inclusive decision making|
|Co-responsibility||Collectively we are responsible for all assets of Bethesda from our good name to our equipment|
|Trust||You can rely on us to do what we should and be confidential|
|Loyalty||We will stand up for Bethesda and what we collectively believe in.|