New Hospice Director

The new Director of East Cheshire Hospice says she intends to continue an “evolution of change” rather than a revolution.

Karyn Johnston takes over in August and says her driving force will be to make an already great organisation even greater.

“I’m very proud of the fact that since I started here four years ago, I have managed the modernisation of many of our fundraising practices,” she says. “I re-structured our fundraising team, streamlined our processes and put the right people with the right skillsets into the right jobs.”

But she admits that the new role will not be without its challenges.

“In these times of austerity, people have less disposable income and often charity-giving is the first thing to go,” she says. “Coupled with the fact that’s its getting harder to recruit specialised, palliative staff who may getting higher wages in the NHS, we are in the perfect storm”.

Playing into Karyn’s former advertising background, she believes the key to future success lies with ensuring the right messages get out.

“We have to promote our expertise all the times, so people know we are here and are aware of the broad range of services we can offer those at the end of their lives,” she says.

And Karyn says the five main areas of the Hospice work – Wellbeing programmes and outpatient appointments; family support; the 15-bedded inpatient unit and the newly established Hospice @Home service – reflect the changing nature of hospice care.

“When I started here, people would see Hospices purely as a place to die,” she says. “Now, with our emphasis on symptom control and disease management and our team of @Home nurses, we are able to bring the highest quality of life to those who choose to spend time at home with their families.”

In her current role as Income Generation and Support Services Director, Karyn has seen overseen a rise of between eight and ten per cent annually on fundraising income with around £2.7m now raised per annum through community activities such as retail, lottery and fundraising activities and a further £1m coming from legacy giving.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the Hospice,” she says. “Yes, it can be harrowing sometimes when you hear peoples’ stories, but to come to work every day and know that you can make that pain a little less is really important to me”.