One of the biggest communications challenges for a Hospice is how to best inform, inspire, engage and involve its wide range of audiences. Such complex messaging to convey the significant impact its services have on individuals and communities.
Developing people stories from patients in the Hospice In-Patient Unit for social media and other external channels, was something the Hospice had some success with. However, the challenge was to engage all teams across the organisation to identify a story.
The focus was to develop a culture of storytelling across Strathcarron Hospice.
- The power of storytelling: building up a team mindset to tell the Hospice story.
Telling the Hospice story previously focused on patients in the In-Patient Unit. The aim now is to:
- Highlight stories of patients, and their families, as well as put the spotlight on staff and teams to promote their vital work.
- Ensure people understand the breadth of palliative and end of care the Hospice is doing for individuals and local communities.
- A Communications Group was set up, with one person representing each department to identify and build up a picture of the Hospice, with real life stories at the heart. This group also shared any department or Hospice ‘wins’.
- Developing a case study process. All staff openly discussed when it would be appropriate to ask a patient or their families when and if they would like to share personal experiences.
- The realisation was that people are empowered to share their life, as well as it being their way of saying ‘thank you’ to the Hospice.
Challenge accepted. Staff become communications advocate:
- Collaborative working in the Communications Group. 30mins per week in everyone’s diary to share patient stories, successes and news.
- These staff/team and patient/family stories regularly distributed to target audiences; a newly refreshed Website, supporter newsletter, social channels, Webinars and local and national media
- Less than one year on, Communications Team is thriving and produces at least 4-5 stories per month.
- With added statistics and figures, these powerful stories become visually engaging Impact Reports with the purpose to inform and influence. New Hospice Strategy and Covid Impact documents distributed successfully to key SMPs and local Councillors etc
- Increased photography of our staff with patients, families – building authenticity and trust.
- People stories being told. As is their wish.
- Impact across local communities (and national press)
Gary was identified by an Allied Health Professional in the community. As a man in his forties, his profile is not one that people identify as a Hospice patient. By Gary sharing his positive Hospice and community experience, we highlight some of our key messages: younger people come into the Hospice for symptom treatment, people get to go home and our Hospice supports the whole person, “what’s important to you”.
- Real life Impact: One local woman, also in her early forties was so inspired by Gary’s story after continually resisting treatment, agreed to have symptom management at the Hospice = early palliative care
- Snapshot Communication Results: Strathcarron’s social channels reach and engagement have grown significantly over 6-12months. Organic Reach increased 102.5% (118.7k people), Organic engagement increased 73.8% (17.6k likes/shares/comments)
– Increase of 21% new users on our refreshed website and Patient Services now in top 5 pages.
– Readers now spend 2.25mins reading our content. Significant improvement.
– 3 patient stories were featured in the national Daily Mail Good Health section.
Ailsa Herd, Communications Manager, Strathcarron Hospice
Note: This article was presented as a Poster and came third in the 2022 Derek Doyle Poster Prize run by the SPPC. Reprinted here with permission.
Photo caption: Marie and H@H nurses