The governance issue that the application addresses:
The governance issue that our application addresses is point 6.3 of the Governance Code – ‘Decide if and how you will involve your stakeholders in your planning, decision-making and review processes.’
In June 2016 the Board of Trustees of the Solas Cancer Support Centre established a new Sub Committee called the Client Services Review and Development Committee. The purpose of this Committee was to review existing services, look at prospective new services and make recommendations to the Board with the aim of keeping the organisation client focused.
Membership of this committee is made up of a full spectrum of stakeholders of the organisation who sit on this voluntary committee for a one year term:
- 2 staff members – Centre Manager and Client Services Co Ordinator
- 3 Clients
- A Volunteer
- A Counsellor
- A Complementary Therapists
- 2 Trustees
- Review the performance of the client services of the Centre from a service users perspective on an ongoing and regular basis.
- Identify potential new services.
- Review existing services.
- Ensure that the Solas Cancer Support Centre provides services in line with its Mission.
Since its inception this Committee has met 22 times(normally every 6 weeks). The administrative responsibilities and required research are undertaken by the staff members so that no burden is put on the voluntary members other than attend the meetings.
The work of this Committee has been incredibly constructive and useful. Some of the initiatives that have been introduced include the following:
- Improving signage around the entrance to the Centre.
- The introduction of our Solas Choir in both Waterford and Dungarvan. Both choirs meet for 30 weeks per year.
- Improving awareness campaigns around our services being free and easy to access.
- The introduction of quarterly Bereavement Information Session for clients who are recently bereaved and not ready for one to one Counselling. These group session have been very well received and ‘hold’ clients as they experience their early grief.
- Introducing a series of 6 Information Sessions for clients each year. Subjects include- Improving Sleep, Diet and Nutrition, Resilience, the Changing Family Dynamic around a cancer experience.
- The funding of Solas Client’s on a Waterford Institute of Technology 10 week rehab exercise programme , called ExWell, for cancer patients 6 months post treatment. This course costs €90 per course and we fund 25 clients per year.
- The introduction of a pilot programme of Acupuncture for symptom management and pain relief for clients undergoing Chemotherapy.
- The Committee looked at the services we offer to children and particularly adolescents. From these discussion we linked with other agencies who could offer support.
- We designed a printed Client Information Guide which has been very helpful in explaining the engagement process and services to clients.
- A text system was put in place for confirming client appointments and has received a very positive response.
- The Committee discussed the option of looking at structured 6 week Group Support programs. After this idea was approved by the Board we were able to quickly react to a need with a group of younger clients aged between 30 and 40. We ran a 6 week program for this group who had experienced the loss of their spouse /partner and were now parenting alone. This was a very successful support group and was very well received by the 8 participants.
Remaining true to our Charitable Purpose
The Committee has also been very useful at keeping us ‘on track’ and true to our charitable purpose. Areas that the Committee discussed, debated and rejected were:
- The proposal around the service supplying transport to clients in hospital – this was rejected as not being a core service and falling outside our charitable purpose.
- Offering financial assistance to clients- again this was rejected as being a service for other charities and not ours.
- The Committee discussed a perceived need for a social space on a Sunday for bereaved elderly clients who find Sundays a difficult and lonely day. We trialled this on 3 occasion and had no take-up. Not all our initiatives are successful!
The Board of Trustees find this Committee to be an excellent resource in gathering the views of a wide range of stakeholders in reviewing and improving the services available. On occasion the Board will ask for clarification on a suggestion or further details and this is provided promptly in assisting the Board in making their decisions. The range of outcomes from these energetic meetings proves the value of the Committee. The one year tenure of members ensures that new innovations and points of view are available. The two staff members remaining on the Committee and this ensures that items are not duplicated and that background / research is available to the members.