Our community care services provide basic nursing and other care needs by community caregivers to people in their homes. Cotlands offers this service to orphaned and vulnerable children (many affected by HIV/AIDS) and their families as a cost-effective means of providing care at the point of greatest need – in the home.
After discovering that many of the children were living in granny-headed or single parent households, we introduced support groups for primary care givers in the communities.
To further assist the families – parents, grandparents, older siblings or other relatives – Cotlands has introduced income generating projects. Led by our grannies, hand sewn goods, including children’s pyjamas, bags, oven gloves and aprons, are produced under the “Philagogo” label, which means “Live Granny” and the profits made from the sale of these products are distributed among the grannies. Not only does this project welcome additional income, but it also provides participants with a purpose and an opportunity for social interaction, while reducing their dependency on Cotlands for material support.
These programs have proven that the latest HIV statistics are a reality in the communities in which we work. In an attempt to address the challenges, Cotlands has continually added new, value-added components to the original program.
Although palliative care services for children infected with HIV remain a core focus, we have realised these services alone are not enough to help children holistically. In addition, an increasing number of orphans, not all of them HIV positive, were being referred to our program, requiring the project to adjust to meet the specific needs of two distinct groups of vulnerable children – those infected with HIV and those orphaned, as a result of the disease.
The first level of intervention – ensuring medical care — has also changed a great deal over the past few years with the introduction of antiretroviral treatment (ART). Our initial focus was pain and symptom management, but today we follow a more aggressive treatment program to help children become well enough to begin ART. However, ART alone is not enough to ensure good health — proper nutrition is essential. To address this need, Cotlands has introduced material aid in the form of basic food supplies provided to families in difficulty. Without regular nutritional meals, it is impossible for children to comply with the ART regime — and compliance is critical to avoid resistance to the drugs.
In addition to physical, medical, educational and emotional support, Cotlands helps families to apply for the documentation required to receive social grants, which affords them further financial independence and ensures that orphans are legally placed with family members where required/possible.
Working at a local level to improve life for residents in Soweto, our community care programme provides basic nursing and other care needs by community caregivers to people in their own homes. Cotlands offers this service to children with HIV/AIDS and their families as a cost-effective means of providing care at the point of greatest need: in the home. The focus is to build equality across society in all streams – health care (we provide home care for minor medical and hygiene needs), counselling, material relief, environment, quality of education, facilitating access to government services, access to information for the primary care givers of HIV positive clients through the support groups, to name but a few.
Our community care programme helps families care for their HIV positive children at home and the Community Care Workers (CCW) conduct home visits to monitor compliance to antiretroviral therapy (ART), support care givers (parents), monitor personal and environmental hygiene, TB screening and monitoring and children’s immunisations.
Each CCW has designated areas in the community where she conducts home visits and takes on multiple roles and many tasks over and above their primary responsibilities, while this is necessary to ensure all aspects of the work is completed.
Our outreach programme has a community information centre which is situated in the heart of Soweto and it offers services to individuals and families infected and affected by HIV. Such services include but not limited to Therapist meetings, Health trainings, Toy library, Jumble sales, food gardens, counselling and support groups. Our support groups are facilitated by a professional social worker and are hosted once a week every Wednesday at 10:00am. They serve as an information club for the community members who are the primary caregivers to children living with HIV and to children who are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
In partnership with Medical Knowledge Institute (MKI) we are able to offer a platform for the delivery of and easy access to high quality healthcare education and information. Trainings that are provided to the community and other NGO’s includes Child developmental milestones, breast cancer, Oral hygiene, avoiding tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B, & C, Nutrition, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Gastro infection, Sexual assaults and hypertension. All these courses are offered free of charge and this has made the trainings accessible to many individuals and NGO’s. Many NGO’s have put their staff through all the training courses to ensure they are better equipped to do their work in the community.
In the rural hills of Hlabisa, we found that many of the orphans, particularly those living in child-headed households, were not getting sufficient food. For this reason, we initiated a feeding scheme. Every afternoon, primary school children are collected from their school and brought to the centre, where they receive a well balanced, cooked meal. High school pupils receive sandwiches and juice for lunch on week days. Since the children were already at Cotlands’ centre, we decided to establish a homework supervision programme, as most of them live in environments not conducive to learning. During this time, a nurse checks them for any new health problems. Care workers bath the younger children and wash their clothing if required and follow up with home visits if any of the children are missing.
School uniforms and stationery are purchased for the children in the community care programme and school fees are covered wherever necessary, as it is essential that all obstacles to education are removed.
To further assist the families we are establishing a food garden as a source for food as well as income.
Cotlands has expanded its community care program to create developmental opportunities and to stimulate children effectively which enhances the child’s holistic development and help the child achieve her or his full potential. The focus will also be to strengthen the capacity of primary caregivers, where possible, in stimulation programs to foster their child’s growth and development further at home.
The Cotlands Community Centre in Macassar opened its doors in early February 2011 and supports children aged 3-5 years from impoverished, poorly educated, HIV impacted and malfunctioning families, in the immediate area as well as children from the Home Based Care program.
Cotlands has expanded its community care program to create developmental opportunities and to stimulate children effectively which enhances the child’s holistic development and help the child achieve her or his full potential. The focus is also to strengthen the capacity of primary caregivers, where possible, in stimulation programs to foster their child’s growth and development further at home.