Beware! Dodgy scammers could knock on your door claiming to represent the sick

26 July 2018 - 20:04 By Katharine Child
According to head of the Hospice Palliative Care Association Dr Liz Gwyther hospices would never raise money by going to people’s houses.
According to head of the Hospice Palliative Care Association Dr Liz Gwyther hospices would never raise money by going to people’s houses.
Image: iStock

Scammers are going door to door in Johannesburg asking for donations for hospices that care for the terminally and chronically ill.

Dr Liz Gwyther‚ head of the Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA)‚ which represents 140 independent hospices‚ said it would never raise money by going to people’s houses.

She said innocent donors were being “defrauded”.

She added that the scam was bad for HPCA's reputation and could result it in not getting the donations it sorely needed.

The HPCA has just learned of the scam after someone phoned the Wits Hospice in Houghton‚ Johannesburg‚ asking for a tax receipt‚ which is usually given to the donor so they can tax deductions on charitable donations.

This is not the first time scammers have used the dying and ill as a way to con people into parting with their money.

In this case‚ scammers are using invoices‚ which have the outdated logo of HPCA. Gwyther and her colleagues suspect they may be the same scammers who opened offices on the East Rand three years ago as a base to raise money from.

“They have resurfaced‚” she said.

Gwyther said hospices did need money.

In about the last 18 months‚ ten hospices had have to close their “inpatient units”‚ where patients who are terminally-ill stay so that they get good care‚ pain control and counselling.

The beds in hospices also prevent patients from having to die in hospitals‚ and enables for them to be looked after in a place with a home-like atmosphere - where their spiritual‚ emotional and physical needs are cared for.

Hospices do not charge those who cannot afford to pay.

The hospices‚ which closed their inpatient units‚ still offer nurses for home visits and help families provide home-based care to the terminally ill or those who are chronically ill.

Gwyther said hospices helped anyone with a disease and it was a myth that the patients needed to be on death’s door.

But if a patient has no family to care for them - or if the families need a break from the intense workload of caring for a very ill patient - then a stay at a hospice is needed‚ which is why hospices need to have inpatient units.

Gwyther said that two years ago‚ the Soweto hospice had to close its inpatient unit and now nurses help about 276 patients by visiting them in their homes in the township.

She urged people wanting to support hospices‚ which only get ten percent funding from government donations‚ not to be conned by people going door to door asking for funds.