CEO shares her story about how children have been affected by COVID-19

St Josephs interview in Archdiocesan News

COVID-19 has impacted on the operations at St Joseph’s. We asked Christelle Cornelius (CEO) about the challenges.

What has the impact of the virus been on St Joseph’s Home?

St Joseph’s is a home where children are in long term care and we sometimes see ourselves as a closed environment. The impact has been on many levels and the reality is that we feel very vulnerable for our children as they need access to 24 hours of nursing care. We had to implement many checks and balances regarding every entrance and exit point at the Home, the childrens nutrition, their physical and mental wellbeing and their transport to hospital visits. Our more than 130 staff members are screened daily, uniforms disinfected and changed on-site, as well as employees supported during their isolation and positive diagnoses. Caring for our staff is crucial for them to be able to care for the children.

What have you done to abide by the rules and regulations of COVID?

We are a nursing lead facility and guided by the Department of Health (DOH) infection control guidelines. At an early stage, we were already thinking about the impact of the virus and what it could mean. Planning meetings regarding scenarios were discussed as part of our preparedness. This initially included infection control in our wards, but as COVID hit our country, awareness escalated. We met with the Department of Health and did a risk assessment for the entire Home. Risk factors were identified, like entrance and exit points, screening of staff, the wearing of masks and the complete restriction of all interns, volunteers and parent visits to St. Joseph’s Facial expressions like smiling, have always been such an important part of all communications and interactions.

Now, living behind a mask, how did this change things here?

A child needs to be able to connect with you and that includes a lot of facial expressions. Initially, our therapists wore visors, instead of masks. Since masks have become compulsory we are guided by our values. How do we engage with one another? We cannot see so much of the facial expression, but what is important is that we still engage respectfully. We respect each other by wearing masks.

Why is the physical contact between a parent and a child so important and how do you mitigate that at St Joseph’s?

Now, with the lockdown parental contact has not been possible. As a mother myself, I cannot imagine going a night without my child, not seeing them and understanding their wellness. Having a place like St Joseph’;s to care for medically fragile children allows parents to feel that they are well supported and in a safe place. It does not ignore the longing between a parent a child. Maintaining contact with parents throughout is reassuring them that we are giving their children loving care. Nurses and staff can only do so much in terms of daily care, but you cannot replace the bond between a parent and a child. So we recognized that this is difficult and have now started to re-integrate parents back into the Home to visit their children. However, we take many precautions in facilitating these visits and parents are debriefed before visits. Until 5 August a total of 22 individual parental visits have been facilitated, while three parents did not meet screening criteria at the entrance. This has been very sad.


See full interview in

Covid-19 Impact at St Josephs

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Thank you St Joseph's

A letter of appreciation from a service provider:


The staff and I thank St Joseph’s Home for the support in getting your masks from us. Your order encouraged us to get the mask making started and on the go.  It has meant we have been able to employ staff and stay open instead of having to close down.  Our families have food on the table and we are continuing to make masks


Kind Regards

Gail Brown




Cape Town Clothing Guild donates much needed winter clothes!

This donation is a huge expense savings to the Home, and we are grateful to have received the following items:

  • 5 x bags winter clothing (jerseys, jackets, pants, sleepwear, warm hats, underwear’s, socks, dresses, tops, shorts, scarfs, vests, etc.)
  • 2 x boxes infant clothing (towel nappies, and baby blankets)

The above donation will help us to reduce the quantity of stock that still to be purchased, and will keep our children looking beautiful and warm throughout the cold days of 2020 winter season.

Thank you!

Responding to COVID19 and the needs of our time

Dear Valued Friends, Supporters and Donors

For the past 85 years, St Joseph’s Home has been one of the pioneers in treating and caring for vulnerable and ill children who needed care and a safe place to heal.  Once again, SJH will play its part and meet, head on, the new life-threatening pandemic we are facing.

Many of you may still remember that ten Pallottine Sisters were summoned to South Africa in 1935 to start one of the first health facilities to care for ill and destitute children after the Great Depression.

Again, we will be guided by the St Joseph’s values and our mission to meet and respond to the signs of our times. This is at the heart of our Home. These values will now guide us as we face the uncertainty and impact brought about by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  A global and African challenge is our shared challenge and we feel deeply for those already directly impacted by this outbreak.

The safety of our children, staff and you, our valued supporters and friends, is our greatest priority. We are working closely with National and Provincial Health to vigilantly monitor the situation and adhering to all regulations to play our part and stop the virus from spreading.

Our children and staff are being empowered with relevant information and guided on personal hygiene and preventative measures in the Home.

As our valued friend, we would like to ask you to support us with the following safety measures we have taken to ensure everyone’s safety:

  • No external visitors will be allowed to enter the premises
  • No children will be allowed to visit on site
  • Persons entering the home may be subject to a Covid-19 screening
  • Sadly, no in-kind hand delivered donations can be accepted.

You may be aware that we are currently running our Easter Campaign for much needed baby toiletries. Please use our safe and simple online payment methods. You can even zapper scan and pay. Unfortunately we are no longer able to receive in kind donations at St Josephs premises.

Your online cash donations are now more needed than ever! Please continue giving


or EFT St Joseph’s Home for Children

Standard Bank| Account: 271166614| Branch Code: 036309| Swift : SBZAZAJJ


Once again we would like to thank you for your ongoing support of the Home and will keep you and your families in our thoughts and prayers in these difficult times.


Adrian van Stolk

Chairperson St Joseph’s Home


Information to our Friends, Donors and Supporters

Issued by St Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children

Issued by Alrika Hefers: Resource Development Manager

Tel: 021-9340352



Dutch Interns raise more than R40 000

Dutch Interns   Demi, Isabella and Mylene, raised more than R40 000 through crowdfunding to support various needs of the children at St Joseph’s. Apart from toiletries and casual clothes need for the holidays, they also funded the necessary school clothes and SHOES! We thank you and your generous friends!

Western Cape Government Health Delegation Visits !

Senior officials from Western Cape Government Health recently paid St Joseph’s Home for Chronic Ill Children an on-site visit. The delegation was headed up by Dr Keith Cloete (Chief Operating Officer), the Chief Director (Dr Giovanni Perez), directors of the four substructures and hospital managers.   The delegation and St Joseph’s management team, shared experiences and common practice challenges. Discussions also included long term planning, the role of the private sector, multi-sectorial clusters and the development of a paediatric intermediate policy for the province.

Will you be an optimist together with us?

“The Great Optimist Race is  about inspiring sick and needy kids to never ever give up and find a passion to live for” says founder.

The Great Optimist Race 2019 will be held during the Cape Town International Boat Show, on October 19th. Between 35 and 40 Optimist Children’s dinghies will be raced by adults ( Celebrities, Medical Survivors; Captains of Industry)and St Josephs Home has a boat sailing especially for our children. This event is not for glory, but to raise money and awareness especially focusing on disadvantaged and ill children.
The Race is a FANTASTIC and UNIQUE fundraising event, spreading optimism and HOPE.

The event will take place at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. So if you are in the area, come down and support our St Josephs boat and see who walks away with the coveted trophy.

Please donate R50 or R100 or a R1000 but whatever you can just get some wind into our sails. Our target is R10 000.

Challenge your friends and corporates, fellow sailors, yachties,  to match or better your donation, and help us to help other people.

Excerpt from 2018 Great Optimist Race:

 42 Optimist sailors set off on a tricky 3 lap course through the V &  A Waterfront, watched by 1000s of spectators. With the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain, the sailors raced for glory and survival. The competitors comprised of adults made up of medical survivors, local celebrities, Captains of Industry and some pro sailors. Three separate start, beginner, intermediate and pro sailors, allowed for a good handicap and a chance for those who had only learned to sail days before. This unique race was all about overcoming the odds and surviving. It’s about inspiring sick and needy kids to never ever give up and find a passion to live for. So, as in the race of life, this race had some unique curveballs and obstacles for the sailors to overcome. Not only did the wind squalls and gusts in the second basin cause havoc, but so did the pedestrian bridge that opened and closed at will, along with “water pistol armed and dangerous” local celebrities Kieno Kammies and Tanya Neft on their own bigger yacht. These were the disrupters. The competitors had to get past these to cross the line.

Our Brave Survivors, Caleb and Jasper, neck and neck for 1st Place!

    It was Caleb Swanepoel, an amputee and shark attack survivor (in the Primi Piatti Optimist) who sneaked in to win the race, just ahead of Jasper Eales in the Sealand Optimist.  (Jasper is a liver transplant survivor).


A little girls journey of healing and recovery at St Joseph's Home

Several years ago, four year old Makanakah sustained 80% hot water burns across her tiny body. While playing with the other children at home, she fell into a bathtub of boiling water. She spent weeks in the Burns Unit at RXH receiving numerous skin grafts and transplants. Makanakah transferred to St Joseph’s in July 2015 for nursing and rehabilitation. At the time, she had developed severe contractures at her shoulder, elbows, hands, hips and knees. She also had significant scarring on her face and body. She arrived at St Joseph’s covered in bandages and afraid of any person in uniform.

While at St Joseph’s, her nursing care consisted of wound care, massaging of the skin to keep it moist and flexible, in addition to the routine care of assisting her with bathing, brushing her teeth, eating and dressing herself. She was unable to do any of these activities herself.

According to the physiotherapist who treated her, Makanakah would initially pretend she was sleeping when she was collected for therapy sessions. Stretching was painful, but essential to preserve function. She would only allow scar tissue massage and as soon as she was expected to do anything functional, she would scream and cry continuously. One day, they had a breakthrough when they incorporated the pasting of stickers on a board into therapy sessions. She loved the stickers and soon forgot that she was supposed to be sleeping! Playing with the different colour stickers was the start of her recovery.

After about a year and a half, Makanakah improved so much that she was discharged from Physio. Up until her final departure from St Joseph’s, she would still seek out therapy, even though she knew that she no longer needed it.

The Occupational Therapist reports that Makanakah was unable to dress herself, do up buttons and zips and  turn door handles, or open and close taps. She struggled to hold a spoon and needed to be fed. She could not hold a pencil  or crayon and activities such as cutting with scissors requiring the use of both hands were extremely difficult. She also struggled to socialise with other children due to her physical appearance and psychological scars.

She progressed so well that in her activities of daily living that she was able to dress herself, tie shoelaces and do up buckles! She attended school on our premises which helped her to socialise and feel accepted. Her handwriting and cutting skills improved significantly.

Her social worker counselled her mother and together with the multidisciplinary team prepared her for her child’s return home and future care needs. Support structures were put in place and school placement organised. The case was also referred to Community Health Workers for follow up after discharge to ensure her continued well-being.

After her discharge home, Makanakah continued her education at our Special Needs school on the premises where her well-being is monitored and she continues to receive occupational therapy.

Eight year old Makanakah (in the picture with  her Mom) has  transformed from a scared, tearful little child, to an assertive, lively and socially confident young girl, despite her severe burns and physical limitations.

Results are out...nearly there!

Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the joy of truly knowing, that we can make a difference in this difficult world.

The internet makes giving easy, with one click of a button, children have nappies and we at St Josephs are empowered to assist with the healing process of ill and vulnerable children. In the past few weeks we have experienced the kindness and generosity of friends, staff and organisations who have chosen to act on their power to transform the lives of many children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses.

By giving, friends of St Josephs, have turned seemingly hopeless situations into stories of hope.

We are over half way to achieving our Happy Nappy Drive goals.

We strive over the next two months, to reach our goal of R200 000 by close of September 2019.

But we need that extra push of support.We are looking for volunteers to host their own Nappy Drive on our behalf. If you are part of a book club, school club or company you can inspire your friends or colleagues to get together or individually donate online and help us collect the shortfall of R66 439.

Share our drive from our Facebook page and read inspiring Happy Nappy Stories of children who have arrived at St Josephs in critical conditions and how they now live loving and fruitful lives.

What’s easy to do is also easy not to do.

So take action and go to and donate now if you haven’t yet had the chance.
Your support is what keeps us giving.

Current Donors – until July 2019

2 Military Hospital
A J MacFarlane
Advest Capital Managers
AFA (Accounting & Finance Advisory)
ATM Solutions
B Greeves
Basil Sass, E D Sauzier
Cape Cycle Systems
Cape Point
Carrie Shepherd
Christine Price
Chuks Mbegbu
Clicks Store in Edgemead
Diane Stephen
Enrico Andrews
F B Green
G A Ziervogel
J D Christian
Jean Hughes and Walking Group
Jennifer Bunsee
Lisa M Morris
Litha Mtiki
M H Sauzier
M H W Wimble
Maranda Bekker
Martie van Dyk
Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt
Melissa Duffy
Michele Sellmeijer
Mrs Erna Meyer
Mrs G J Brown
Mrs I Sacks
Mrs M Tucker
Mrs Shireen Dollie
NGK Ceramics
Noemi Rentz and Family
Patti Cleveland
Pepijn Ruijters & Dominique Garrigues
Peter Crumplin Trust
Power Transformers
R A Foster
S M Beattie
S A Hartmann
Sandra Galvez and Neena
SAPS ORS Border Policing at Cpt International Airport
Sinclair Broadhurst
Sourcing Solutions SA
St Joseph’s Staff
T C Hadebe
U G Kuschke
UCT – Centre for Innovation
Ursula Athiros