Providing external assurance to trustees and commissioners at Queenscourt Hospice

Healthcare accreditation

Building accreditation into everyday life

Queenscourt Hospice, in Southport Merseyside, is an independent charitable, voluntary body funded by donations and the NHS – although NHS funding makes up less than a third of its income. It aims to provide free, individualised, holistic, evidence and experience-based, specialist palliative care for adults who have advanced progressive and incurable illness. Its governing body is the Council of Trustees which is chaired by Dr Peter Downham. The day-to-day management is in the hands of the Executive Directors: Dr Karen Groves; Cath Baldry 
and Ann Throp.
Scale of challenge
Mrs Throp has been Director of Non-Clinical Services since 1998 and says it was a review of organisational structure over nine years ago that was the catalyst for signing up with the CHKS Accreditation programme. The management team felt it would be an opportunity to give 
the Trustees confidence that robust governance systems were in place and help to provide credibility with PCT commissioners, Central Lancashire PCT and Sefton PCT. The role of hospices is also changing in line with the Department of Health’s End of Life Care Strategy. This has called for a more integrated approach to planning, contracting and monitoring of service across health and social care. It also said the family, close friends and informal carers have a vital role in the provision of care. They need to be closely involved in decision making, with 
the recognition that they also have their own needs. This new direction means hospices are changing and are no longer places where people with cancer go to die. 

Resources used
The first time the Hospice went through accreditation the Director of Nursing took the lead. Mrs Throp says that the accreditation process forced the Hospice to look closely at its existing procedures. Things that had been done the same way for many years were challenged and new ideas about ways of working were discussed by the whole team. 
“We realised that we had to record much more in terms of outcomes. We also recognised that what we really needed was someone to lead our quality agenda,” she says.

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“The first time we [went through the accreditation process] everyone played a part and because every member of staff had some involvement, [so that] when we gained accreditation, the motivational impact was huge, when they got their feedback from the surveyor team they were bouncing off the walls - everyone felt really proud of the achievement.” 

Ann Throp, Executive Director, Queenscourt Hospice