Sunflower Ward Renovation Complete

St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children (SJH), celebrated another milestone on Friday when the modernised Sunflower ward, was officially blessed. This is the third ward that has now been re-opened since a major R40 million renovation programme started nearly two years ago.

StJosephsHome-Sunflower-Ward-3The renovated Sunflower ward has been designed to accommodate patients between 0 and 18 years who have been referred from State Hospitals to SJH for rehabilitation. Since the rehab pilot project started nearly three years ago, nearly 170 children have benefitted from its rehab services which include physio-, speech-, and occupational therapy. The 14 member staff also include social work and counselling support.

“The 20-25 bed ward has been modernised and designed bearing in mind the complexity of the rehab conditions, the associated with high intensity nursing care and vulnerability of patients. Rehabilitation will become the main focus of this ward which is driven by a multi- disciplinary team.


All staff members, including the nursing staff will collaborate in order to achieve optimal patient outcome goals. Specific ward programmes will be set up to facilitate practising of skills learnt within the therapeutic environment. Parental involvement and training will also be facilitated within the ward to help with transference of skills, “ Ms Thea Patterson, Director explained.

Some of the most common conditions treated, are traumatic brain injuries, burns conditions and cerebral palsy. The patients are mainly referred from state and district hospitals in the Cape Metro. In certain cases patients return after being discharged, for additional therapy. The predicted average stay is between 6 weeks to 6 months but most of the patients need about 6 months to recover. To date, a total of 164 patients have been admitted, while only 27 are still at SJH and receive ongoing rehabilitation input. The rest, except for five (social cases) have been discharged home or into alternative placement.

The two other wards which are already functional, are Sweet Basil and Daisy with a bed capacity of 55 beds.

Some of the exciting features are:

The wards have wide passages and small interior gardens;
Windows at child eye level with wide window sills and built in seating;
High roof windows which will treat the children to as spectacle of clouds and blue sky during the day, and stars at night;
An eco-friendly design using natural light, a natural flow of air to control temperature/ventilation- low sound proof ceilings to create a homely atmosphere;
More showers and fewer baths;
Special eco fire places;
Spacious rehabilitation areas and family visiting spaces;
Outside recreation spaces;
Adherence to the highest fire regulation specifications- making it one of the safest buildings in South Africa;
A deliberate change from the traditional institutionalised buildings to a more child friendly and homely design- beds are grouped in smaller units with extra space for storage for personal belongings.


The R40 million project, ring fenced for the hospital and its patients, was made possible through a generous overseas donation and will take another six months to complete. With phase one completed, the other current renovations include the modernization of the remaining two other wards; the upgrade of the nurses’ home, parents’ accommodation and the reception/admin area. Provision is also made for the landscaping of the ward gardens and certain outside areas.

“We were fortunate to have had excellent input from architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and consultants. After a year of preparatory work, the renovations are nearly three quarters there and will be completed by end – 2016. We are confident that this will contribute considerably to the improvement of our current facilities which are nearly fifty years old!” Ms Patterson said.

Says project leader and architect Nicola Irving from Charlotte Chamberlain and Nicola Irving Architects (CCNIA): “Our aim was to change the character of St Joseph’s from an institutional to a safe and more intimate space where a child can be a child. We wanted to create playful spaces where a child will no longer feel anxious or scared. The building should embrace the child and encourage healing and wellness.”


Challenges of running a 24/7 hospital in a safe environment, also required innovative thinking. When the actual construction started, contingency plans saw the conversion of the main hall into a “Florence Nightingale” type of ward, housing rows and rows of beds! Temporary passages were erected to redirect the “traffic flow” and isolate the children from the potentially hazardous demolitions. Protection of the children and staff was obviously of paramount concern. Every precaution had to be taken to ensure our safety and causing as little disruption to the functioning of the Home as possible.

Ms Patterson said that SJH is ideally positioned to take on the new challenge of intermediate care service, based on a proven record of looking after children with life threatening conditions. This is also in line with the Home’s strategic thrusts of remaining relevant and sustainable as a financially viable non- profit enterprise which will attract much needed funding from donors and Government alike.

St Joseph’s Home (SJH) for Chronically Ill Children is a registered non-profit organization and a unique in-patient facility in the country that provides a wide range of paediatric, intermediate health care and related services. This holistic approach includes among others, a rehabilitation project (pilot), a nursing school, St Joseph’s RC Primary School, a crèche and logistical and pastoral support to families.

Children at SJH have all been diagnosed with life threatening and life limiting illnesses and are from disadvantaged communities.

Celebrating 80 Years of Health and Wellness for Vulnerable Children

For 80 years, St Joseph’s Home (SJH) for Chronically Ill Children has cared for orphaned and vulnerable children from all races. Against a background of political turmoil and poverty, the facility has survived, defied Apartheid and touched the lives of more than 21 000 children.

On 22 September (11:00) this landmark achievement was celebrated with a special Mass at St Joseph’s (which incidentally followed one day after International Peace Day). The Mass was conducted by Archbishop Stephen Brislin and more than 200 special candles, sponsored by SPAR Western Cape’s CSI were lit to celebrate the healing of children. Sisters from the Pallottine Order from Rome and Germany also attended while Mayco member, Suzette Little, conveyed good wishes from the City.


Located in Philippi initially, and later in Montana (1967), Cape Town, the facility was established in 1935 by ten Pallottine Missionary Sisters who were called upon to come to South Africa and care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC). This included many children who were left destitute and ill after the 1930 Great Depression. Armed with their belief, passion and forward thinking, the Sisters started a paediatric health and wellness model, focusing on the holistic well being of the child. Within six years, the number of children increased to 120, all receiving specialised nursing, education, rehabilitation- physio and occupational therapy, and even hydrotherapy.


Today, St Joseph’s Home (SJH) for Chronically Ill Children is a registered non-profit organization and a proud South African pioneer in the field of paediatric intermediate health care. The holistic model of service includes, free 24 hour general and specialised nursing care (140 beds maximum and block rehab patients), and multi-disciplinary interventions such as Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy and Speech therapy rehabilitation, social work support, on site pre- and primary school education, parental empowerment, specialised nutrition programmes, logistical support, training of accredited auxiliary nurses (nursing school), pastoral care, outreach and follow-up support visits and volunteer placement programmes. More than 300 children benefit from these services annually.


St Joseph’s Director, Ms Thea Patterson, said that SJH is ideally positioned to take on the new challenge of intermediate care service, based on a proven record of looking after children with life threatening conditions. This is also in line with the Home’s strategic thrusts of remaining relevant and sustainable as a financially viable non- profit enterprise which will attract much needed funding from donors and government alike.

“At St Joseph’s we know that we cannot change the world. However, during the past 80 years, we have supported and enhanced the lives of more than 21,000 vulnerable children from the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa. We gave them a second chance at life. We have learnt from the past and pioneered a holistic and sustainable model in paediatric intermediate health care which is currently quite unique in South Africa, “ she said.


1935– St Joseph’s is established. The late Right Rev. Bishop Hennemann identified a need to care for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC’s) after the 1930 Great Depression. Ten Pallotine Sisters arrived on September 23 and a few days later, the first patients were admitted to the vacant Presbytery in Philippi, Cape Town.


1954– the Group Areas Act forced the Sisters to find innovative ways to deal with the challenge of segregation, as they were no longer allowed to treat white, black and coloured in the same facility. Philippi became a designated black area.

In 1967– the Sisters secured funding and land in Montana (area still undesignated to a racial group), a new hospital was built, and 18 years later, a school was added.

In 2002 a 25 bed ward was opened for HIV/Aids infected children to counter a new pandemic. Today, the Sunflower ward ( infectious diseases) still cares for at least 25 patients (0-2 years) daily.

In 2008 funding was secured and the Nursing School reopened after being dormant for some years. More than 100 students from poor socio-economic backgrounds have been trained as auxiliary nurses and given an opportunity to gain a qualification and employment in the nursing sector.

In 2013 the new Intermediate Care Policy for children is introduced and proves to be a game changer. Patients at St Joseph’s stay for shorter periods, if possible. A pilot rehabilitation programme funded by The Children’s Trust of Red Cross Children’s Hospital is also launched.

In 2014 major funded renovations worth R36 million start at the Home pioneering innovation, moving the Home away from institutionalised to more child friendly and homely spaces.

In 2015 the first two renovated wards and the new rehabilitation hub are completed.

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