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John Taylor Hospice on bringing about change with the Open Up Hospice Care campaign

Author: Diane Parkes
27 July 2017
  • Fran Tierney with the hospice's day centre manager Paddy Breen

John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham is collaborating with Hospice UK’s Open Up Hospice Care campaign, helping to promote its message of opening up end of life care for all who need it. Here Diane Parkes, the hospice’s Head of Brand and Media explains why they got involved and what they hope the campaign will achieve.

At  John Taylor Hospice our three year strategy has three main strands - partnership, influence and reach. Families we care for tell us we make a difference - but we know there are people who could benefit from our care who are not being referred to us. The reasons for this are complex, but our strategy commits us to making a change.

Hospice UK’s message of Open Up Hospice Care is in tune with the aims of our strategy. Their research tells us that one in four patients who could benefit from hospice care cannot do so – and we want to reach those people. Our vision is a compassionate and dignified death for all, not just for some.

We feel it is important not just to talk about the great care we offer. Hospices up and down the country are very good at that because we all have lovely stories to tell. But we also need to be telling the other stories, that are rarely told  – about the people who do not receive that care and who struggle to access the support they need when they are dying. This is why for one month this summer we are pathfinding for Open Up Hospice Care.

On a practical level that has meant temporary changes to our website with a new homepage and information about the campaign. We have also changed our social media pages and been active in promoting the Open Up Hospice Care messages. We have shared stories with Hospice UK and local media, and we have featured the campaign in internal newsletters and documents.

So far we have seen one of our supporters interviewed by a national magazine. We have also shared the story of one of our patients, Fran Tierney, through various publications  including Charity Today and The Irish Post, as well as social media. As her story has appeared in each publication Fran and I have been emailing each other, depending on who spots it first. When her story appeared as an audioboom bulletin read out on Charity Today’s twitter feed I think we were both smiling at our computers as we listened to it!

As a pathfinder hospice, we see our role this year as testing the waters for Open Up Hospice Care, and then there will be a great deal to share and discuss at evaluation. Already we are learning lessons – the need for the campaign to be clear in its messaging, the timescales, how we liaise with Hospice UK and the other pathfinders. All of these areas can be improved for the future.

I am looking forward to hearing the experiences of other hospices – discovering what has worked and what may not have worked so well for them. It is sharing of this kind of learning which helps us all develop our communications.

When all the hospices are so geographically separate we sometimes forget how powerful we can be when we come together. This year the pathfinders are a small number of hospices, hopefully next year more than 200 will be involved. Now that will be a voice that is hard to ignore.

So how do we feel Open Up Hospice Care is supporting our strategy? Working with other hospices is growing our partnerships and creating new links. By being part of a national lobbying campaign we are influencing locally and nationally, playing our part in bringing about change. And if we can reach those additional one in four people, what a difference that will make.

For more information  about the campaign visit Open Up Hospice Care

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