The history of St Luke's Combined Hospices
St Luke’s Combined Hospices has a long and rich history in South Africa. Inspiration for the modern-day Hospice movement began in 1948 when Dame Cicely Sanders formed a friendship with one of the patients under her care whilst volunteering as a nurse. Realising there was a need for a place that could provide end-of-life care, she decided to train as a doctor to understand the issues surrounding care of the dying and in 1967 she opened St Christopher’s Hospice in London – a medical, teaching and research facility dedicated to the physical, emotional and spiritual care of the dying.
Our journey began when Christine Dare, an English medical student visited Cape Town in the late 1970s. She had worked with Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern-day Hospice movement, and her visit ignited the need to cater for patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses.
St Luke’s was founded on 13 August 1980, initially operating out of Vincent Pallotti Hospital and then Observatory, before finding a permanent home in Kenilworth in 1986.
In the early 1990s, St Luke’s Combined Hospices took a decision to bring care to a wider community and over time opened community hospices in:
- False Bay
- Grassy Park
- Mitchell’s Plain
- West Coast
In keeping with the changes which have revolutionised South African society, St Luke’s Combined Hospices sees a vital role for itself as a community based primary health care organisation, sharing the load with state-funded medical services, which are being strained to breaking point.