The Virtual Hospice CEO Group was set up in 2020 as an on-line forum for CEOs to discuss strategic challenges and opportunities in an open and supportive way. We keep numbers small enough to do this productively, but large enough to get a good range of opinions, so it’s limited to around 15 members.
Over the years, we have had dozens of speakers on a spectrum of subjects ranging from strategy and governance, all aspects of income generation, to EDI, community engagement, organisational culture and volunteering.
Nicki Shaw, CEO at Princess Alice Hospice has been a member of the group from the start. 'It's a great chance to discuss the issues we all have in common, but also to be pushed outside our comfort zone by thought provoking speakers. I always enjoy attending'.
Below are details about some of our recent sessions. For more information, contact me.
At our first session of 2024, we welcomed Ann Lee who recently stepped down as CEO of St Margaret's Hospice in Somerset. She had previously been Director of Care.
Ann spoke frankly and eloquently about some of the successes and challenges during her time at the hospice. This included organising a concert with Rod Stewart that raised £150,000, having to manage the aftermath of a complex legal case involving fraud and dealing with the public backlash to changes they had to make at one of the hospices.
Her resilience, commitment and energy through all these experiences is to be admired.
At this month's Open Forum Session, we heard the reflections from three hospices, St Andrew's (Grimsby), Keech (Luton) and Wakefield Hospice, about their recent CQC inspections. Except for the fact that each had not had an in-person visit since well before the pandemic, their respective experiences did not have not much in-common!
We also discussed the highlights of the recent Hospice UK Conference and special guest Jonathan Ellis invoked a very interesting discussion around the age-old issue of statutory funding of end-of-life care.
This month, we welcomed Lindsey Lambeth from Social Finance to discuss social investment and in particular the Macmillan End of Life Fund that they are involved in. We also heard from Amelia Foster from Sobell House Hospice Charityin Oxford who
discussed the positive results of their participation with Social Finance alongside local partners.
Social Investment is still a relatively new concept in end of life care, but can offer innovative ways of funding service development. What came across to me in the session was the flexible and innovative way Social Finance wish to work with partners and their realisation that projects will be very organic – they may turn out to operate quite differently than planned.
The presentation by John Rhys from Heavenly on their work with Princess Alice Hospice on their main brand but especially the development of their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) generated a lot of interest amongst participants.
With all the current challenges around recruitment and retention, making your brand stand out in the market is increasingly important. It will be interesting to learn more about the impact of this work at a future session.
Recent research provides evidence of falling numbers of people giving up their time to help out in both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ volunteering and a number of other worrying findings. At this session, we discussed how far hospices were experiencing the impact of these trends.
It became clear that this differed markedly in different areas of work, with challenges in, for example, retail. However, we also heard examples of innovative recruitment and involvement campaigns and of a greater emphasis on focusing on volunteer motivation.
Clearly, hospices will continue to rely heavily on the support of volunteers from the communities they serve.
We welcomed Zoe Amar FCIM, a leading expert in all things digital, to the group this month. Zoe led a thought provoking and engaging session on the opportunities around Artificial Intelligence.
From the more mundane, such as providing executive summaries of papers and minutes to meetings, to the much more profound e.g. enabling new ways to interact with beneficiaries, the opportunities around AI are numerous.
So, having an open and curious mindset is important – especially for the technophobes amongst us! I loved Zoe’s suggestion that we think of AI as an extra member of staff, rather than an abstract piece of complex technology, to help us do this.
This month's theme was cross-voluntary sector collaborations. Recent years have seen many more examples of hospices working together in more strategic ways. But as this session showed, there are also plenty of opportunities for collaborative activity with other organisations in the third sector.
Steve Currie from Harlington Hospice talked about H4All which involves partners from across Hillingdon who work together on a number of initiatives. They are soon to extend their scope to working in more boroughs across north-west London and with a wider range of charities.
All speakers stressed the benefits to their hospices of extending their reach and impact by working with partner charities in their localities.
Very interesting session this month led by Daisy O'Reilly-Weinstock from Good Innovations about their fascinating in-depth report, The Future of Charity. It's well worth reading by anyone working in or around the sector.
It's full of very thought provoking insights, ideas and proposals, raising important questions about the future of traditional charity business models. As one of those they interviewed said, “Continuing as we are isn’t going to be the solution to the problems we face.”
Good Innovations have identified five areas of work to focus on coming out of the findings of the report.