Changing 500 nappies a day? That’s normal at St. Joseph’s!

St. Joseph’s annual Happy Nappy Drive is underway

Changing 500 nappies a day may sound like an impossible task to most people but this daily marathon of providing hygiene care to medically fragile children is par for the course for the staff at St. Joseph’s in Cape Town. This well-loved institution provides intermediate, post-acute restorative and rehabilitative care for children with chronic or life-limiting conditions.

For the past 85 years, this beacon in paediatric care in Southern Africa has been providing general and specialised nursing care and rehabilitation therapy for over 23 000 children from vulnerable communities.

Their annual Happy Nappy Drive is underway and emphasises the tremendous needs of St. Joseph’s in the practical aspects of looking after and taking care of medically fragile children.

“On average children with life-limiting conditions stay for six months at the 175-bed facility, receiving holistic and multi-disciplinary medical treatment free of charge,” says Christa Robijn, St. Joseph’s Resource Development Manager.

She adds: “Every 24 hours we use more than 500 nappies and our annual nappy bill is more than R500,000. The Happy Nappy Drive is vital to meeting our children’s needs and keeping them comfortable, and our goal this year is to raise R200,000 and collect over 5,000 nappies.”

Disposable nappies
As St. Joseph’s treats children with life limiting and life-threatening illnesses it uses disposable diapers as it has been proven that disposable diapers are effective in decreasing probable sepsis in neonates.

“Using disposable diapers also decreases the number of diapers used per day,” Christa explains, “and also the number of times a nurse comes into contact with a baby, especially during these COVID-19 times. Operationally, our in-house laundry also has limited capacity. Of course, we care about the environment, but we also care about a high standard of critical medical care and disposable items are needed to achieve this.”

Not considered medical
As nappies are not considered medical consumables by the Department of Health, this puts an extra financial burden on parents in the vulnerable communities, especially parents of chronically ill children.

Says Christa: “As a non-profit organisation, St. Joseph’s runs a 175-bed facility and we rely on donations from organisations and individuals to enable us to provide the best quality care for our children. We fundraise all year round through various initiatives like our Happy Nappy Drive.”

There are various ways to join the Happy Nappy Drive:

A pack of nappies is about R260, but there is no minimum amount – every little bit helps!

  • Alternatively, nappies can be ordered online at Clicks, Dischem or Pick n Pay and delivered to St. Joseph’s, 40 Pallotti Rd, Montana, 7490, Cape Town.

For lots more info on the Happy Nappy Drive and St. Joseph’s, go to:

Christa Robijn
Resource development manager, St. Joseph’s Home for Chronically Ill Children
Tel. +27 21 934 0352