Expanding St John South Africa

Expanding St John South Africa

St John South Africa is evolving – and it’s going to take local communities to new heights as it does so. Noshcon 2014 provided the ideal platform for the non-profit organisation to benchmark its new direction.

“You can’t just equip people with skills in the event that something goes wrong,” says Craig Hartley, director of St John in Cape Town, “You must equip them with knowledge and skills to prevent those accidents from happening and mitigate the impact.” This is what the organisation is aiming to achieve with its forthcoming programmes, currently in the pilot stage.

“Because we’re a non-profit organisation, training in first aid and community health is our core business to generate an income to subsidise our community efforts,” Hartley explains. The Cape Town office is currently in partnership with the Department of Health to provide home-based care to marginalised communities. The aim of this programme is to empower communities to take charge of their own health. “In line with the government’s initiative to bring healthcare closer to the communities, our programme assists this vision of the Department of Health. Healthcare should not just be curative, but it should be ‘hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) orientated’ and preventative as well. Communities should be empowered to do HIRA in all their activities. This brings the cost of healthcare down.”

Working in the west coast communities of Malmsbury and Vredenburg and the metropolitan areas of Nyanga, Langa, Dunoon, Kensington, Woodstock and Cape Town (among others), a new qualification in community health work, at NQF level 2, is currently being piloted and will be verified and accredited through the Health and Welfare Seta during October. “Across the country we are, however, still known for first aid training at NQF level 1 and 2 and we are known for first aid training in terms of the Department of Labour Document C Level 1, 2 and 3.

“As a medium-term goal we are also considering expanding into occupational health and safety (OHS) for companies and communities, as companies are situated in geographic communities. We hope to launch by the end of 2015,” Hartley says, adding that the organisation is now accredited with the American Heart Association and the Resuscitation Council of Southern Africa for presenting the Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers and Heart Saver First Aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED).

Regarding the community healthcare programme, Hartley describes it as a “hand-in-glove” situation. “Those households are part of workplaces – we want to engage companies to let them know what we’re doing, find out how it would help them and marry the two. It’s a matter of making safety a day-to-day practice,” he enthuses.

“We want to train people to think safety at home as well as in the workplace. For this reason we have adopted the slogan “Saving lives at work, home and play”. If we can all think safety, we will have brilliant, proactive communities and workplaces. We also want to push for safety to be taught in schools,” Hartley adds.

This year being the organisation’s fourth appearance at Noshcon, Hartley was interested to see the response to St John’s new direction. “We wanted to use the conference to promote future expansion and find out who is interested in community involvement. Looking at the volume we saw, this year has been very positive; the delegates were excited to see our expansion.

“You can’t just develop products. Development has to be undertaken in line with what customers need. St John has to diversify and utilise what we can get in industry and work it into the community. What differentiates us from other first aid training providers is that we have to balance our income with our expenses. It is therefore important that our arm that ploughs back our income (into communities), and the arm that contributes to business are balanced like a scale,” he concludes.

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