St Elizabeth Hospice
St Elizabeth Hospice has experienced significant changes in the last five years, compounded by the rapid and unavoidable adaptations they had to make in the face of COVID. That accelerated a process that was already well under way - increased geographical coverage, more in-community care at patients’ own homes rather than in hospice beds, growing focus on demographic groups not traditionally served by the hospice, additional requirement to support quality of life for people with chronic conditions as well as to provide palliative care, greater financial pressures in a turbulent economy - the list goes on.
Following a change of leadership, with a new CEO, Judi Newman, recruited from within the organisation, St Elizabeth’s Board and Senior Leadership Team completed the ongoing review of its strategy to meet new needs related to the changes experienced by the Hospice and policy changes impacting all health care professionals and hospices across the UK. On the basis of that process, and following a formal Staff and Volunteers meeting, they agreed that an existing values set needed to be reviewed and possibly rewritten, and so Judi invited us in to support that process.
Larkenby delivered this project at a discount to support the work of the Hospice.
Despite the pressures of their workload, the majority of the Hospice’s Senior Management Team took part in a half day Active Ethos workshop. We looked at the value of creating bespoke, ownable values and getting them embedded in and around the organisation. We then worked together on words and phrases that feel relevant to the Hospice, its objectives and people, and considered how aspects of the current values could be honoured in any rewrite. The discussion and all further actions were in the context of supporting St Elizabeth’s vision: “All in our community affected by life-limiting illness are able to live fully and die with choice and dignity.”.
Following the workshop, members of the SMT and SLT proposed colleagues, service users and associates we could invite to talk about their experiences and share their stories. In addition, we were given access to two recent research projects which dug into people’s relationship with the Hospice, their views and hopes for its future. Encouragingly, most of the suggested interviewees agreed to speak to us, and over the course of the next few weeks we held good quality group and individual interviews. The notes from these conversations, combined with the research notes, gave us a superb insight into the life of St Elizabeth’s, its challenges and opportunities; aspects of team experience in which it had almost no difference from a commercial business and areas in which it is wildly different. We found enormous pride and care amongst people, a wealth of opinions and ideas, and an overwhelming sense of wanting the best for the Hospice and its team.
Given this rich body of material we had an enormous amount of information to pick through to draw up key themes, language used and a sense of what would drive the organisation to be its best self for everyone, every day and deliver on its vision.
Having developed an initial proposal for a values set, we presented them, along with a clear explanation of the logic behind them, to the SMT for their subjective response. To their enormous credit they questioned the proposals intensely - how would they be used in specific situations, how would certain words be perceived by key demographics, what positive change would a particular value deliver? This robust challenge of each of the values demonstrated clearly that each member of the Hospice SMT was thinking hard about their ethos as a tool to drive improvement.
A follow up to gather objective responses a few days later gleaned additional thinking, and we held a number of one to one meetings to discuss these in more detail. This allowed us to review the values set - the logic had been fully approved, but its articulation required a different approach in three of the four proposed values. The rewrite was shared with the SMT and SLT to their unanimous approval, and then taken by team members to their departments. In addition we presented to the Culture and Diversity group, to ensure that the proposals would support their objectives.
For Larkenby the final stop was a Board presentation in which we talked them through the process, their team’s input, and the values set. The level of rigour this demonstrated gave Trustees confidence that the values set agreed by the SMT would support the changes that the Hospice needs to make, to help it achieve its vision.
St Elizabeth Hospice Values
One team, one community
Compassion takes courage
Every moment matters
Given the way that St Elizabeth Hospice’s SMT and SLT really focused on exactly how they could use these values with their own teams to deliver their remit, we are hugely encouraged about the potential for success as the team rolls out its Active Ethos programme in house. At a wrap up meeting following successful adoption of the new values by the Board of Trustees, Judi was able to share personal examples of bringing them into her work to support conversations and decisions, and anecdotal evidence of colleagues doing the same thing.
In a satisfactorily symmetrical conclusion, Judi presented the process and its outcomes to the Staff and Volunteers meeting, which coincidentally took place exactly a year after the one at which the need for this was agreed. She was delighted to report that the meeting went well, and that all group members felt able to approve the new St Elizabeth Hospice Ethos.
The values have subsequently been launched across the organisation, and with the talents of a graphic designer they really come to life for everyone who will use them over the next months and years as the Hospice continues to support the needs of families across the whole community.
When St Elizabeth Hospice was drafting its new strategy in early 2020, we had no idea that we were about to step into a global pandemic and a period of fast paced collaboration with other health and social care partners, responding to extraordinary needs within our community for end of life and palliative care. Thankfully the strategy stood us in good stead, with an emphasis on tackling health inequalities and a commitment to reach out to the wider community to build cultural confidence in supporting one another through the experiences of dying and grief. When we stepped back in 2021, we could see that the strategy was standing firm but the values that we had carried forward from many years before – however noble - were no longer supporting our broader ambitions as a modern hospice in an integrated care landscape.
We reached out to Erika as we were aware of her passion that a strong set of values could amplify your organisation’s confidence and convictions. We had already started talking to staff and volunteers about the need to refresh our existing values so Erika was able to hit the ground running with pacy and inclusive interviews and workshops. Erika knit together hours of listening into four clear themes, distilled quickly into powerful suggestions for our values. It was a pleasure to see Erika genuinely listen to the feedback: she took on-board that although a hospice is rightly associated with kindness and care, hospice staff do a courageous job, often requiring the most difficult conversations and the staff wanted our values to represent that courage. The whole process was brilliantly project managed, always delivered with a sense of pace and a respectful understanding that time was precious for clinical and medical colleagues.
The ask was for our values to speak to our hard-baked strategic commitment to achieving health equity and building compassionate communities: Larkenby helped us find our voice together, and we are very grateful for both the words and what they represent.
Judi Newman, CEO, St Elizabeth Hospice