Restoring Dignity for those with HIV and AIDS
Nontobeka Mbangi was HIV-positive.
Although antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) had
When people living with AIDS need constant or
specialized care, their families turn to care centers. In
East London, few such facilities exist, and those that
do are often poorly staffed and too expensive for most
families. Dignity House, however, provides affordable
"After an HIV client was sent home sick and died in a
fire, I realized how much we needed a place like
Dignity House," says Dr. Ethné Schaefer, medical
director at Sophumelela Centre, Inc., which runs
Dr. Schaefer was able to meet this need in 2008, when
Sophumelela, which started as a stand-alone ARV
clinic that went on to gain nongovernmental organization
status, won a PEPFAR New Partners Initiative
(NPI) grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
The NPI grant also came with technical assistance from John Snow, Inc. (JSI) and partner Initiatives Inc., through a TA-NPI. Staff from TA-NPI worked with Sophumelela to design trainings, policies, and procedures to enhance and strengthen its systems, staff, and client services. TA-NPI's technical assistance strengthened the skills of the Sophumelela team that supports Dignity House. Since the team includes nurses, doctors, a social worker, adherence monitors, a dietician, spiritual care workers, and at times volunteers to provide occupational therapy, the TA-NPI assistance impacts the totality of a patient’s experience at Dignity House.
"The referral network workshop helped me to think
broader and deeper into my patients' needs," says
nursing manager Helen Bunt. "The workshop put it all
together in the big picture and gave a continuity of
thought, from vision down to stakeholder and patient
For patients like Nontobeka, who needed help with
even the most basic functions, the enhanced support
couldn't have been more critical. At Dignity House,
patients receive the highest-quality services including
fresh food and eating assistance, medical treatment,
personal hygiene care, counseling, and the companionship
of staff and fellow residents.
Since opening, Dignity House has supported more than 100 patients. Although its original goal was to give care and dignity to the dying, fewer than ten residents have died. The majority of patients become healthy enough to leave with an improved quality of life. Nontobeka says, "They care for me and they love their job. They are not judging me, it's amazing. There's no place like this one."
Dignity House is a successful indigenous organization working to destigmatize AIDS hospice care and is the only specialized AIDS palliative care facility in East London. TA-NPI's support has helped Dignity House strengthen its systems and staff skills, which will enable them to provide quality, specialized care for people in need for years to come.
Technical Assistance to the New Partners Initiative (TA-NPI) is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and implemented by John Snow, Inc. (JSI). The information provided on this web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the CDC or the U.S. Government. The contents are the sole responsibility of John Snow, Inc. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.