2017 marks the 40th year of St Columba’s Hospice
Throughout 2017 the Hospice is marking the 40 years since we opened our doors and welcomed our first patients and families. We have a year-long programme of activities and part of that is shining a light on the various different roles that people have at the Hospice.
Already this year we have heard from people all across the Hospice including our chair of the governors, our patient and family support assistant, a steward, a fundraiser and more. You can read all the other blogs from staff members here.
Today, we publish a blog from Jackie, the CEO of the Hospice.
How long have you worked at the Hospice for?
I’ve worked at St Columba’s Hospice as Chief Executive Officer for 2 and a half years now
Tell us about your role as the CEO of the Hospice
My role here is to ensure the Hospice meets the needs of the patients, families and communities it serves across Lothian. St Columba’s Hospice is a well-loved and valued service in Edinburgh, established in 1977. It is a visionary and creative organisation which has been financially supported by the communities across Lothian since it began. Part of my role involves speaking to patients, families, staff, volunteers and members of the public to find out not just how we may have helped support them but how could we do this better. This connects me with the people who make up hospice care which I thoroughly enjoy.
As the CEO of the Hospice I am supported by eight senior managers, each leading a department within the Hospice and a committed Board of Governors who determine the strategic direction of the Hospice.
How does your role help patients and families?
My role is indirect and managerial with the ultimate aim to continually improve and develop the care and support for patients and families. This is the aim of all staff and volunteers within the Hospice with each of us having a role in getting feedback on patient and family experience, providing suggestions for creative redesign of existing services and innovative new services where there has been a gap identified.
What would surprise people about your role?
The first reaction I get when I tell people I work at the Hospice is one that you will have heard before ‘isn’t that a really sad place to work?’ This is not the case. The Hospice is bright, airy, and full of life. Hospices are places where people recognise the value of life and seek to make the most of time which may be limited. They are filled with staff and volunteers who are motivated and enthusiastic about the roles they hold and the organisation they work for. This makes the Hospice an inspiring and enjoyable place to work. There is often laughter to be heard around the building and last summer I watched a cascade of bubbles drift past my office window quickly followed by 3 hilarious children watched over by their mother who was a patient here. Her smile and laughter reminded me of the importance of the simple and normal activities which make our days better.
The second thing I am often asked is ‘do you not miss nursing and the patient contact?’. My role as CEO of the Hospice is a managerial one but is based very much in a patient and family setting. I can have contact with patients on a daily basis in any number of ways; joining them in the café for coffee, chatting with them in the Day Hospice or speaking with them at their bedside within the wards. The Hospice CEO role is unique in this way as we are never far away from those who need and want our care and support.
What is it like working as CEO of the Hospice?
It is an honour and privilege to work at St Columba’s Hospice. I am supported by a motivated and committed team of staff and volunteers who all go the extra mile to provide care and support. The Hospice itself is a beautiful, warm and welcoming building with the most amazing views over the Firth of Forth. Who could possibly complain about that?
What do you like doing in your own time?
I have two mad cocker spaniels who demand a lot of my time, if not walking them, then feeding and petting them. We recently moved through to Edinburgh from the West of Scotland and the dogs particularly love the access to the beach at the weekend so I am often found scrambling over rocks and through the sand.
I am also an enthusiastic rugby fan and can be found in the stands at Murrayfield during International matches losing my voice as we cheer on our Scotland squad.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
St Columba’s Hospice is more than just a building, it is a philosophy of care. It was created by the vision of the people of Edinburgh, funded by the people of the Lothians and the care is delivered by an amazing team of staff and volunteers. Wherever I go, whoever I meet across Edinburgh and the Lothians, they have a connection to the Hospice. They know someone who has been cared for by us, they have volunteered for us or they have helped raise funds for us and sometimes all three. The warmth and commitment people have for the Hospice inspires me and makes me proud to be part of this amazing organisation.