‘Hard times – but the future is still bright’ at Havering-atte-Bower hospice
After one year in her role as the first ever chief executive of St Francis Hospice, Pam Court believes that the hospice has ‘a really positive future’.
After working as an NHS professional for 35 years, she took up the role in May last year.
Leading the Havering-atte-Bower based hospice in a strategic role, she says she has tried to keep the hospice doing ‘as much’ as ever despite the tough economic times.
She told the Recorder: “Times are hard, due to the recession.
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“Some people are saying they’ve been made redundant and they can’t give regularly by standing order like they used to.
“People are saying it’s getting harder and harder to get sponsorship for events.
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“But it’s not all negative; our shops are doing very well.”
Among her aims is to continue to provide services despite the tough times, as well as changing perceptions of the work it actually does.
The charity provides services like Hospice at Home, which mean community nurses look after patients who don’t need to move in to the hospice.
Pam said: “Hospice at Home is often done in the last few weeks.
“The family can go in for a break, go to the shops, bank or whatever. If we get a referral in the morning, we can get someone there in the afternoon.
“I wouldn’t like to have to stop that.”
For the hospice itself, she hopes that people’s perceptions of it can be changed.
“We’ve got to get the message across that we do more than you think.
“A lot of people think everything happens here in Havering-atte-Bower. Actually it’s a small part of our overall work.
“Much of it is in the home for people who want to spend their last weeks at home we can support that.”
The hospice also educates counsellors, provides bereavement services and holds sessions giving advice for people on legal issues.
She also hopes the hospice can expand its community services so that they all operate 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week.
There will be changes for the organisation, she explains, due to the shake-up of the NHS, and she is looking in to more online memorial services.
“We’ve had relatives phoning up from Australia saying ‘my grandmother died and I want to do something in memorial’.
“We’re always trying to do new things to keep it fresh.”
Looking back at her first year in the job, she said among the highlights were patient Kelly-Anne Seery featuring on ITV show Text Santa while she was at the hospice before she died in December.
Pam said: “I got to know her, her children and her partner. Her children were desperate to get involved (to help the hospice) and she was very proud of that.”
She added: “It’s a fantastic place to work. I’m really proud to lead it and I think we’ve got a really positive future, even though the money’s hard.”