In May this year the forum for Executive Clinical Leads in Hospice and Palliative Care (ECLiHP) welcomed Erika Lipscombe as its new Chair. We spoke to Erika, the Director of Clinical Services and Matron for the Rowans Hospice in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, about her ambitions for this new role.
What led you to working in the hospice sector?
I qualified as an RGN in 1991 and worked for three years within a medical unit which specialised in gastroenterology and haematology, we worked with people who were diagnosed with gastric cancers and blood cancers – palliative care was very different at that time. In 1994 I became aware that South East Hampshire and Portsmouth were building a hospice; I was successful with my application and moved into the hospice and palliative care world; I have been there ever since.
What goals do you have for your first year as Chair of ECLiHP?
ECLiHP as a group has a firm foundation; the work that Marie (Cooper, former Practice Development Lead at Hospice UK) did to establish the group in 2012 alongside Judith Park – the first chair of ECLiHP provided a strong strategic voice; it is about building on that foundation moving forward. One of the first things is considering how Hospice UK work with the clinical leaders within the executive group moving forward.
That first year is about ensuring the foundation remains strong and is built upon and that expectations are clear and realistic.
What would you liked to have achieved in two years’ time?
Palliative care and hospice care is changing. I think the role of ECLiHP is to provide, as clinical leaders, the strategic clinical voice within palliative care; supporting the current clinical leaders and future clinical leaders to manage the challenges that arise.
Our challenges as clinical leads may be different locally – it is important as a group, and as a network – that we support each other and take those challenges forward.
Over the course of your career, what has changed the most in end of life care?
If I think about when I first encountered hospice care, it was very much sitting at the bedside on a ward waiting for somebody to die – hospice care has changed over the years and developed in relation to being a speciality; supporting patients and the whole family through and into bereavement wherever they may be – hospice care is beyond the walls.
What things are you most proud of in your career?
I am proud of a number of things. During my time at the hospice, I have developed my leadership skills, and the completion of an MA in Management (Health and Social Care) allowed me to research the influences affecting where people choose to die and what factors influence and potentially alter choice as disease progresses – I am now taking this work further through a PhD.
Over the years I have seen and been part of a lot of change with the delivery of palliative care services; supporting the development of services in the community through Hospice at Home and a bespoke service to support those people living with dementia and their carers from diagnosis to end of life. The hospice focus is on supporting complex dementia and end of life care – a service that demonstrates effective partnership working by social and health care services.
The move to develop a Living Well Centre that now provides all therapeutic day support for patients and carers including a bespoke service for veterans and support for those who are bereaved has seen the reach for the hospice widen; the hospice being able to meet carers and patients much earlier and providing support through the Centre into bereavement.
I am committed to the ethos of palliative care and as Director of Clinical Services oversee all clinical aspects of the hospice supporting the strategic direction of services, leading on change, empowering and developing the future leaders of clinical services, and most importantly ensuring the delivery of high quality ‘outstanding’ care to those patients and families requiring hospice care and support.
For more information visit ECLiHP