“Financial recovery will be just as challenging as Covid-19 crisis itself” says hospice CEO

Categories: Care, Featured, and Opinion.

Dallas Pounds, Chief Executive of Royal Trinity Hospice in London, writes about how the hospice sector should begin to plan for recovery after the Covid-19 crisis.  

Last week marked a month since we closed our 32 shops and cancelled almost all fundraising activities for the foreseeable future.

We launched an urgent appeal for funds that contained some stark truths and an urgency that felt very “un-Trinity”. We were forecasting a £3 million shortfall in income over the next three months. Never in our 129-year history had we faced such a challenge.

As hospices, we rely on the generosity of our local community to sustain us. At Trinity, in recent weeks we’ve seen that the community spirit that in 1891 raised the funds necessary to establish the hospice is still alive and well. We could not be more grateful. But in the coming months, we, like many other hospices, will need to call on our local community for their support more than ever. Financially, recovery will be just as challenging as the crisis itself.

When we are finally able to reopen our shops and resume our fundraising activities, we know that things will not pick up where we left off. Fundraising and retail income will take time to recover.

In early April, when the government pledged up to £200 million in emergency funding for the UK hospice sector, we were pleased that the importance of hospice services and the role we are playing in this crisis had been recognised. Thanks to the responsiveness of our colleagues at Hospice UK, we received a portion of government funds less than a week after the announcement. It was a lifeline at a moment when we needed it the most. But for many of us, the government support will be a short-term fix for what will undoubtedly be a long-term challenge.

It is that longer term challenge that my team and I are turning to now. How to secure our future in the face of an economic downturn and when many individuals, not to mention other worthwhile charities, are facing financial difficulties? How can we plan a recovery when we don’t know when or on what terms the lifting of any restrictions will happen? How can we secure regular income when we have no shops and our fundraising activities are by necessity, so limited? How can we begin to replace the reserves we have used to keep our doors open?

As we look to the future, there is also an opportunity to pause and reflect. It is clear that even months down the line, Trinity won’t look like it did at the start of the year. Some of that is not in our control, but plenty is. In the coming weeks, we will be taking time amidst managing the day-to-day impact of the pandemic to plan for recovery. We will look at what we might do differently, better or more efficiently, what we have learned from changing the way we work, and consider if we were doing anything simply because ‘that’s how it’s always been done’.

I am looking forward to conversations with colleagues from all corners of Trinity to see what we can learn from this experience that will help us improve, and maybe prove helpful to others. I am hopeful that other hospices will also share what they have learnt from this enforced change to our usual models of care, and that the sector will emerge stronger than ever.

These are questions many of us our asking ourselves, and that no doubt are being asked by our boards. Supporters of hospices are some of the most passionate and dedicated charity supporters out there. All of us will need them in the uncertain months ahead, more than ever, to secure the future of the free services that so many of them know are invaluable. But we should also be taking a moment to look inwardly at how we can find opportunities for improvement and innovation in the face of this challenge.

For more information visit Royal Trinity Hospice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *