Charity Leadership The Challenges of Public perception

20 January 2016

Charity leadership event – Q&A with Claire Cardy, CEO, Ellenor Hospice

Claire Cardy is Chief Executive at ellenor – which supports families facing terminal illness. She has been in that role since April 2014, having previously been Director of Patient Care at ellenor for six years. She has a nursing background and has worked in a variety of senior management roles in the NHS and other charities.

1. Could you give us a brief overview of what ellenor does?

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015, ellenor is the only charity in the county that provides hospice care for people of all ages – babies, children and adults - and their families. This includes pain and symptom relief, end of life care, respite, bereavement support and emotional and spiritual care. Care is provided in a variety of settings, wherever it is needed - with 90% of our care being given in people’s own homes, where families can remain together.

2. Ellenor recently underwent a re -brand, what was its main objective?

Up until April 2015, ellenor was operating under separate brands for our adult and children’s services – which was sometimes confusing and involved running two websites, separate social media accounts and increased printing costs. Over an 18-month period, we undertook a review of our look, with specialist help given to us at no cost, and we came to the conclusion that operating as ellenor - with one clear vision - would actually help us to save money in a number of areas, and to be clearer in our message so that we can help more people.

We set three objectives in April – to increase awareness and impact; to raise more money in order to provide more care; and to save money by solving the issues that came with operating two brands. I am delighted to say that the response to the new brand has been overwhelmingly positive and we have already achieved all the objectives we set.

3. Besides public perception, what is the main challenge currently facing charities?

At ellenor, our biggest challenge is trying to balance all the priorities – there is so much to do, as we see hugely rising demand for our vital care at a time when resources are ever more limited. As a charity, not part of the NHS, we need to raise £6.7 million to provide our round the clock care and we have to work hard to raise every penny. It is an increasing challenge in the current climate, and a big responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the vital care we provide.

4. You are very passionate about what you do, what would you say is the most rewarding part of your work?

Each day at ellenor is special as the work we do has such an incredible impact on families at such a difficult time. For families who don’t have much time together, we only have one chance to get it right. We do whatever we can to achieve an individual’s wishes – including organising weddings at a few hours’ notice to cooking a favourite dish. All of these things help families to create special memories and the feedback from our families at the receiving end of this care is the most rewarding part of my job.

5. And finally, what would be your advice to someone who is starting off his/her career in charity management?

We hear a lot today about how charities should be run like businesses and in many ways this is true – we do have lots of boxes to tick, regulations to follow and objectives to achieve. But, when you work for a charity, it is still important to be compassionate. I began my career as a nurse, as I wanted to help people. That compassion still inspires me in my role today and is one of the four key values of ellenor. Passion for the cause is vital, so I always encourage individuals to look for a role where they feel truly motivated by what they are doing and what they can achieve.