Little Hospice Hoima has started the 1st June 1998.
In 1998 Hoima was very neglected in term of development and the district had one the highest prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. In 1997 Hospice Africa Uganda decided to start a training programme for health professionals. From there, Dr Stella a then well-known physician in her home town Hoima, asked to start palliative care with the support of the team. HAU therefore further trained her and she started offering palliative care service in her small clinic, in a front shop. She later gave the team a tiny room where Betty a nurse was working. A welcome sign was put in the street outside Dr Stella’s surgery “Welcome to Little Hospice Hoima”.
Little Hospice Hoima grew over time. Care to patients was mostly provided at their home; the team was going on home visits on borda-bordas (taxi motorcycles); and they often had to walk to reach the patients. After renting a house for one year, the Catholic Bishop allowed the HAU team to stay in a catholic clinic. In 2001, they were given a car. In 2005 LHH finally got a land and HAU was able to build the new LHH.
AIDS patients were largely exceeding cancer patients at that time, but the trend is changing for over ten years with the arrival of the ARVs in the country and the increasing number of cancers. But still most of the HIV/AIDS patients are LHH patients.
Little Hospice Hoima set a simple strategy to reach the patients in need who are living in remote areas far from the health facilities. First the LHH team visited the villages and asked the leaders to select two people who would be in charge of referring the sick in pain to LHH and to care for the patients in a daily basis. The selected community volunteer workers (CVWs) would then be trained in good referral and basic care either at LHH or in the village for several days. At the beginning CVWs were not referring the suitable patients to the programme, but with further monitoring and with time, the CVWs got more and more skilled and were performing so well. There were already CVWs working for the Ministry of Health and some asked to be trained and to join LHH. After three months of good service, a CVW would be given a bicycle, a T-shirt and a monthly financial contribution for bicycle maintenance. The CVWs were supervised by a nurse who was meeting them regularly.
This scheme has now been taken not only to the three HAU sites but also to other hospices within Uganda and in other African countries. See the Clinical Department web page here. And read “A Bridge to the Hospice: the impact of a Community Volunteer Programme in Uganda", by Prof Barbara Jack, Edge Hill University in Liverpool here.
LHH also refers cervix cancer patients to the Road to Care programme and enroll children living with or affected by cancer and HIV/AIDS, in the Give a Chance Programme. See our Complementary Programmes section here. LHH is currently caring for over 530 patients and has supported over 3800 patients since 1998.
Little Hospice Hoima is today a model for palliative care services in rural areas. Many of the IHPCA’s students and Palliative Care Initiators’ course participants are doing their clinical placements at LHH. And they very often witness the excellent work realized by the team and the exceptional compassionate and ethical spirit that drives Little Hospice Hoima.