January  2017 – July 2018 ‘Hospice Trustee: what we need to know’

Sarah Hargreaves is the facilitator of the Hospice UK Governance Programme series of these one day masterclasses for hospice trustees to develop their understanding and awareness of the trustee's role and responsibilities in running an effective hospice. These are offered as open events and in-house hosted by a hospice. The latter are arranged locally by one or more hospices for their trustees and, sometimes their chief executives.

Ten events have been delivered between January 2017 and July 2018. Five of these were organised in-house. About 105 delegates attended. The locations in 2017 were: January, Stoke-on-Trent; February, Wrexham, North Wales; March, Leeds; November, Liverpool and Derry, Northern Ireland. The resources and discussions in the home countries reflect the charitable law, governance arrangements and good practice documents specific to that country.

In 2018, masterclasses were held in: January, London; March, Liverpool; May, Blackburn and July, Leicester.

Examples of the feedback kindly given by delegates in the follow-up survey  

Open events

  • ‘Meeting with other trustees and sharing learning. The trainer was flexible in covering the material in a way that worked for us.’
  • ‘The opportunity to discuss the role of trustee with the other trustees in attendance. Comparing notes and sharing experiences Excellent presentations.’

In house events

  • ‘Informal formality of the day where we all had the opportunity to listen, learn, contribute and also enjoy each others’ company.’
  • ‘The opportunity / time to be together as a Board without any constraints being facilitated by a knowledgeable leader who was prepared to answer questions with authority.’

From open and in-house events

Aspects to change were few such as it was difficult to fit all the programme in and that more time working in groups would be beneficial.

Detailed assessments of the facilitator were positive including:

  • ‘I felt Sarah the facilitator was very responsive to the needs of the group and took time regularly to ensure these were being met.’
  • ‘Sarah Hargreaves was very personable and knowledgeable. She made an assessment of the
  • different learning needs and structured the programme to try to accommodate them. The subject matter was interesting and we were all encouraged to contribute. The programme ran expertly to time.’
  • The impact of the masterclass on some delegates was reflected in their action points to take back to their hospice board and senior team:
  • ‘I think how the Board of Trustees may interact better with the management team in terms of representation and participation in meetings so strengthening the governance process.’
  • ‘It was interesting to learn about the different ways that other hospices structure their board meetings, and the variation in roles and expected input of the trustees.’
  • Implementing examples of good practice - e.g. organisation of boards and the value of a pre -meet; ensuring a better balance of strategic vs operational issues on the agenda, opportunities for developing shared services across hospices, thinking about having an open discussion about the culture of the board and fostering a critical friend mindset.’
  • ‘Will revamp our board meetings.’

One trustee soon to be Chair, said simply ‘Every new trustee should attend this programme’.

Governance Review

January to April 2018, Sarah designed and delivered a Governance Review for a hospice. This was interactive and responsive as well as analytical and related to current good practice. It involved interviews with trustees and the senior staff team, group meetings with other staff and with volunteers, findings and suggestions presented and discussed at a Board away day and a summary report. The Board and senior staff team created an action plan resulting from the findings and discussions arising from the review.