Red Cross Children’s Hospital spotlight: Mereille Pursad | Western Cape Government

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Red Cross Children’s Hospital spotlight: Mereille Pursad

12 August 2021

“Every single day I get to play with children, using my knowledge and skill set to empower, and enable, them to see the light at sometimes very dark tunnel,” says Mereille Pursad, head of Occupational Therapy at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. 

August is women’s month, but it’s also child safety month, and giving credence to both can only be beneficial to our society.

Mereille Pursad has been at the hospital since September 2008 and together with her Occupational Therapy (OT) team forms an integral part of the multidisciplinary team at this iconic facility. Occupational Therapy is a profession that sees each person – as an individual with their set of roles, values and skills within a specific environment. 

Occupational therapy strives to enable each person to participate meaningfully in activities.  The team at Red Cross work with the young patients to ensure that amongst others, play (the occupation of a child) is promoted in a safe and meaningful way.

“The key to OT is helping other – helping those who is unable to help themselves – or even see the possibility to help themselves so that they can become the best version of themselves with or without additional support,” says Pursad.

Her passion and love for children radiates when working with them.  She’s proud to be able to work in an institution that leads healthcare and have the opportunity to grow and learn. 

“For me it is about systems – equitable systems for all.  Studying and doing to impact the system to ensure a better outcome for our children,” she says.

“While physical safety tips are often more know, like keeping hot liquids out of reach of kids, and pouring cold water in a bath first before adding warm water, child safety includes looking after your child’s mental health,” she explains.

Her top tips for child safety are:

  1. Give your undivided attention: fosters connection and feeling of safety.  This helps to ground a child.  One should put one’s phone away and spend quality time with one’s children. This ensures child development and proper adult supervision to prevent most accidental injuries.
  2. Routine and structure set a child up for success.  The child better understands what is expected of them and can better cope with the demands of life.
  3. Positive feedback builds self-confidence – a building block for independence.  Find the opportunity to commend your child for trying and not only for succeeding. Celebrate their courage to try.

“Seeing that twinkle in a child’s eyes – when you connect and they realise that “they have it” or “they can do it” is one of my most rewarding moments,” she beams.

Media Enquiries: 

Dwayne Evans
Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Mobile: 072 236 8658