After ten successful years as Chief Executive at Overgate Hospice Janet Cawtheray retired in May. She is succeeded by Alison Harwood, who joined the organisation on Tuesday 4th May. Now two months into her new role, Alison wanted to introduce herself to the Calderdale community.
“I’m incredibly passionate about providing the best possible end-of-life care and it is a great privilege to be appointed as the new Chief Executive at Overgate Hospice. It has been a very busy but exciting few months stepping into the role. It has been wonderful getting to know all the fabulous staff and volunteers both in the hospice and at the shops across the local community. It has been such a privilege to learn about all the excellent work and care that is so core to the Overgate Hospice ethos. I have also been able to take the opportunity to meet with key stake holders across the district and am starting to appreciate the unique role that Overgate has in supporting and leading end-of-life service provision in Calderdale.
Apart from learning everyone’s names (!) my immediate priorities are to continue to ensure that the hospice is a safe and welcoming place for patients, families, staff and volunteers as we move through different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is such a credit to the staff that the hospice has remained open to admissions over the last 12 months, ensuring that high quality care is available in a timely manner.
I am also very keen to re-establish some face-to-face Day Hospice services. The pandemic has taught us that doing things differently can work and the hospice has adapted superbly to virtual support for people living with life-limiting conditions and family members going through bereavement during lock down. Many will have felt isolated or cut off from society at a time when a ”hospice hug” was most needed so to be able to bring people back into Day Hospice will help support their welfare and mental health.
The next few years are going to be a very exciting but challenging time for the hospice. There are plans in place to significantly increase our ability to care for the wider community through a new Inpatient Unit that will be purpose-built to provide care in a bespoke environment, with more bed capacity and the ability for families and carers to stay with loved ones whenever they need to.
We are also keen to ensure that there is equal access to hospice care for everyone across Calderdale. We put the patient at the centre of everything that we do and will always endeavour to make access as easy and equitable as possible for everyone.
My message to the Calderdale community would first of all be thank you – having worked in hospice care for several years and observing the positive feedback I have heard since starting at Overgate I never cease to be bowled over by the loyalty and generosity of people. As a nurse I know how vital hospices are in times of crisis and distress. Overgate Hospice can only continue to build on its 40 years of experience as the local leader in Specialist Palliative and end-of-life care with the support of the community through our shops, fundraising, donations and volunteering. As CEO I can assure our community that their needs will always be key to what the hospice does now and in the next 40 years.”