Earlier this month, Cranford Hospice conducted its first public Annual Meeting, an initiative of the insitution’s new Governance Board chaired by Ken Gilligan.

As is pretty well known, BayBuzz was a vocal critic of Cranford’s previous management regime.

The new team, with Gilligan as chair and Helen Blaxland as general manager, seems to be a different breed. At the Annual Meeting, they put forward a presentation that included reports on clinical care as well as financials. Anyone present could have posed questions and, I believe, gotten straight answers.

In the year ended 30 June 2011, Cranford had revenue of nearly $4.9 million, the primary sources of which were about $1.6 in donated income and $2.6 in DHB funding.

The total caseload for that fiscal year was 622 patients. Of 433 total deaths, 71 occurred in the hospice itself and 60 in the hospital, reflecting the reality that most end-of-life care is actually delivered out in the community. Nearly 6,000 community visits were made by nursing and medical staff.

Cranford is participating in a Hospice New Zealand benchmarking program, which is designed to evaluate local care against newly developed national standards. An annual audit of performance is also undertaken by the Ministry of Health.

Against all that ‘good procedure’ stuff, all patient families are regularly surveyed, with those results reviewed by the Board. I suspect many in the community would probably be more interested in that personal feedback than in bureaucratic ‘audits’ and ‘benchmark’ reviews.

Members of the public can also receive Cranford’s Annual Review as well as its Strategic Plan, 2011-2013, both available online.

Feedback BayBuzz receives indicates that recruitment of specialist medical/nursing personnel remains a challenge for Cranford, but it appears today this is more a sector-wide issue than unique to Hawke’s Bay. Presently, 58% of staff are formally trained in palliative care; 27% of staff are currently undertaking formal palliative care post-graduate education.

As BayBuzz readers know, Cranford was imploding two years ago, with dedicated nursing staff in particular aggrieved. Injustices were done and those hurts remain.

But as noted at the outset, the new ‘regime’ seems well motivated. The Annual Meeting ended with an all-staff sing of a new Cranford song, with Chairman Gilligan leading on guitar … surely that would not have occurred very recently! [I put the challenge to follow suit to DHB Chair Kevin Atkinson, who was present!]

BayBuzz will continue to follow progress at Cranford, and so patient families and members of the public are encouraged to share your experiences with us.

Tom Belford

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