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Second successful Learning Forum for Hospice Leadership graduates

30 July 2014
  • Delegates attending the second Learning Forum event take the opportunity to network at St Joseph's Hospice

50 hospice leaders gathered at St Joseph’s Hospice earlier this month to take part in the second Learning Forum event, organised by Lancaster University.

Michael Kerin, the Chief Executive of the east London hospice opened the event and provided delegates with an introduction to the day.

Dr Sally Watson from Lancaster University then outlined the purpose of the day, and said she hoped the event would stimulate quality conversations, share learning about sector challenges and generate new ideas and thinking.

The delegates attending were a mix of students and graduates from the MA Hospice Leadership programme at Lancaster University, who were joined by a selection of high profile guests from the sector.

The forum used an approach called ‘strategic conversation’; this is a practical learning approach used to encourage a transfer of learning and knowledge to the day-to-day environment of hospice and end of life care.  

The strategic conversations for the Learning Forum were focused on the relationship between leadership, organisational culture and performance. The strategic challenges outlined in Help the Hospices Commission into the Future of Hospice Care provided a practical context for the forum.

Drawing on personal experiences

The morning session was presented by acclaimed Guardian journalist and writer, Madeleine Bunting. Madeleine set out her talk around four key words:

  • solidarity
  • inequality
  • hospice
  • compassion

With an insight and perspective based on story-telling, history and social change, the delegates heard how Madeleine's own experience of hospices and end of life care had shaped her views.

The journalist’s speech covered an array of subjects, from  mindfulness to government policy, and also outlined her ideas, including how the Sure Start principles - delivering holistic services to families at a critical point in their lives, when children are small - can equally be applied to end of life services and  care.

Concluding by reading the John Donne poem, "No man is an island" Madeleine set the scene for the first round of strategic conversations.

Five groups then formed to discuss and debate specific questions including:

  • 'How do we create a hospice culture that is responsive to the needs of our local communities?'
  • 'How do we encourage a culture of collaboration and an outward facing attitude to working with other services and providers?'
  • 'How do we ensure that equitable access to care is a fundamental principle embedded in hospice culture and shared value of hospice leaders?'

Madeleine Bunting gave her response to the findings from the strategic conversations and said:

“We may be uneasy with politics, but hospices will have to deal with this. It is similar to the situation housing organisations faced, can there be some shared learning and lessons taken from them?”

A business-focused challenge

The afternoon session opened with Neil Townsend, who chairs the Halton Haven hospice. His talk also took four key themes:

  • value for money
  • planning
  • communication
  • culture

Neil gave delegates a more business-focused challenge, drawing upon his experience of working in the housing sector, and relating it to the issues he now sees in hospices.

He made the case for leaders to focus on efficiency, to consider how services can be delivered in a more effective way, and suggested that if services are expensive, then there needs to be well considered justifications which will stand up to scrutiny.

Again influenced by personal experiences, Neil powerfully made the argument for seeking feedback from all stakeholders, including staff, volunteers and patients.

Round two of the strategic conversations dealt with questions generally with a more inward focus tackling issues such as:

How do hospice leaders create a culture of innovation and, at the same time, retain service quality?

What are the implications for hospice service culture of widening the reach of hospice services to new situations?

What are the priorities for workforce development (paid and volunteer staff) and what are the cultural challenges which impact this key hospice challenge?

Feedback

Feedback from delegates included:

“Excellent provocation by Madeleine Bunting. The role of the arts and creativity at the end of life is an interest of mine and could be part of a future event.”

“Really enjoyed how the day was facilitated. A thought for future forums maybe, ‘Are Hospices ready for the increasing numbers of patients with multiple co-morbidities and dementia?”

“I just want to share how much I valued getting in non-hospice staff such as the key note speakers who gave us a very healthy perspective. Many thanks for an excellent day and starting with realistic expectations.”

Application now open!

Applications are now open for cohort 5 of the Masters in Hospice Leadership programme, which has been developed in partnership with Help the Hospices. The deadline for applications is 18 August 2014. The course starts on 13 October 2014, and the university suggests applicants apply as soon as possible to secure their place on the programme and the Towergate bursary on offer.

Find out more information and how to apply on the Lancaster University website.
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