Emelita Robbins is the CEO of Jersey Hospice Care, the island’s only hospice and the largest independent charitable provider of healthcare services in the Channel Islands. The charity has a strategic leadership role in the delivery of end-of-life care across Jersey and provides education to all healthcare providers in this area. Jersey Hospice Care supports patients and their families in the home, in the community, at the Hospital and at Hospice. It offers palliative, emotional and spiritual care for free to anyone with a life-limiting condition.
What led you to work in the hospice industry? What inspires and motivates you every day in this sector?
My path to the hospice industry was not an obvious one – previously, I was a litigator in London. The importance of corporate social responsibility, the belief that we should all be socially accountable, was drilled into me from day one and it has always stayed with me. The projects I became involved in gave me a diversity of experience and a very firm view that the most important factor in any aspect of life is people.
I volunteered at Jersey Hospice Care when I relocated back to Jersey. It is a charity borne out of the will of local people and flourishing because of their support. Every day, the team at Hospice make a difference to the lives of those we support. It’s a hugely inspiring environment to be part of and when an opportunity arose for me to become involved operationally, I seized it.
What keeps hospices such as Jersey Hospice Care (JHC) up and running, given the nature of how they are run and free services it provides?
Unlike the majority of hospices in the UK, Jersey Hospice Care had operated, until recently, without any government funding, depending entirely on charitable support. This changed in 2014, when the States of Jersey agreed to meet about 8% of our expenditure in return for Hospice undertaking a strategic leadership role in the delivery of end of life care and education. The annual running costs of Hospice are in excess of £6 million, which means we have to raise over £16,200 to cover the costs of each day. Our main sources of income are our fundraising charity shops, charitable donations, and event fundraising. With increasing patient numbers and the expansion of our services, meeting the running costs has become one of the biggest challenges we face.
What is the Gold Standards Framework? How does JHC maintain this?
We introduced a national training programme for the delivery of care at end of life, the ‘Gold Standard Framework’ ‘GSF’, to all healthcare providers on the island, thereby making Jersey the first jurisdiction as a whole to adopt the framework. It’s had a huge impact on the whole healthcare system, perhaps most notably evidenced by the reduction in the number of people dying in the hospital, from 1 in 2 to 1 in 3. We have recently been approved to become a regional training centre for GSF, so will continue to maintain the framework with on-going education.
As a leader, how do you get the best out of your staff to ensure that your patients are happy and cared for?
My staff and the volunteers at Hospice are the charity’s most important assets. It’s no good asking everyone to put patients first if they don’t feel cared for themselves. I believe in thinking big, being inclusive and approachable, and empowering teams to deliver. We have emotionally driven values here; these, together with an understanding of the difference we make to the lives of others, is a big motivator for everyone at Hospice.
What milestones has JHC reached in the last few years? Is there anything exciting up ahead?
There has been a lot of change at Hospice in the last few years, with the introduction of greater statutory regulation in the regulation in both the health and charity sectors. We have made changes to ensure that we are a modern, sophisticated charity, with secure and sustainable income streams. We have moved from a nurse-led model to a medical model, to ensure our patients receive the best care we can offer. Perhaps the most exciting change is the decision to extend our services to children and young people, with planned home care services starting in the next few months and, in time, a new facility to support the children and their families. This will mean that age like diagnosis is no longer a barrier to receiving hospice care in Jersey.
Emelita Robbins, CEO, Jersey Hospice Care
Tel: 01534 876555