The Chair invited the representatives, to make their presentation to the committee.
The representatives proceeded with their presentation, highlighting the following:
· The Foyle Hospice began as a Community Home Care Team in 1985
· The inpatient unit officially opened in 1991 and the day hospice facility opened in 2001
· Their mission is to provide compassionate, palliative care to individuals with a life-limiting illness, their families and carers through high quality specialist holistic support
· Significant consultation period with staff, service users, trustees and management team in order to produce their strategy going forward
· Launched their three year strategy in October 2018
· Geographically the Foyle Hospice provides services primarily to Limavady, Derry/Londonderry and Strabane
· Provide services within areas of Omagh, Fermanagh and other parts of Northern Ireland in collaboration with the Northern Ireland Hospice
· Core services include a ten bed inpatient unit, community specialist team which operates 5 days per week, day hospice service and a 24/7 advice line
· Wish to increase the facility at Culmore Road from a ten bed patient unit to twelve and increase the community specialist team to a 7 day service
· Other additional services include bereavement and support groups, compassionate communities and collaborative pilot programmes
· Bereavement groups include – Forget Me Not Adult Bereavement Support Group and Healing Hearts Children’s Bereavement Support
· Approximately £3.03 million in funding is required for 2018/19
· Thirty percent of total annual running costs are provided through the Health and Social Care Board
· Approximately 70 percent of funding from the local community
· Fundraising is required to make up the 70 percent total running costs with events and activities, local support groups, legacies, grassroots, corporate organisations and schools and the retail sector within the local community.
Members from all parties and the Independent grouping thanked the representatives for their presentation. They stated that the Foyle Hospice provided an invaluable, caring and compassionate service for people throughout the City and District and beyond.
In response to a query from Alderman McClintock, Mr Henderson stated that there were three independent hospices in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Hospice which covered a substantial area of Northern Ireland, the Southern Area Hospice based in Newry and the Foyle Hospice. He stated that the Foyle Hospice primarily covered the Western Trust area, however patients have been referred to them from other areas throughout Northern Ireland.
Councillor Reilly referred to the additional services provided by the Foyle Hospice, particularly the Healing Hearts Children’s Bereavement and Support Service and asked how many children had been helped by the service. He then expressed gratitude to all those involved in fundraising events and activities for the Hospice given that 70 percent of funding came from people and organisations throughout the City and District.
In response, Mrs McIntyre stated that the Healing Hearts Children’s Bereavement and Support Service was initiated as a two year pilot programme to help children and young people who had suffered bereavement. She referred to the ‘making a bear’ project, where bereaved children made a teddy bear using garments that had belonged to a loved one. She stated that the children had found great comfort in making the bears which had also helped them cope with their loss. She outlined the various activities and counselling services available for the children to help them through a difficult time in their lives. She stated that the service had made the Hospice a more welcoming environment for children and young people with a children’s party held annually at the Hospice for the children who had used the service. She stated that it was important that the Hospice was seen as a safe place rather than a negative environment for children who had lost a loved one. She emphasised the importance of funding in order for the service to continue.
Mr Henderson stated that the service was comprised of two elements, pre-bereavement and post-bereavement. He reported that for 2017/18 twenty one children had used the pre-bereavement service with forty two post-bereavement. He stated that Foyle Hospice also had a volunteer counsellor in place who provided support to 9 children who were identified as having been traumatised more significantly than some of the other children using the service. He explained that the counsellor provided this service in a voluntary capacity due to the lack of funding. He outlined that the organisation was attempting to identify grant opportunities that may become available going forward. However most grants for hospice funding did not include Northern Ireland, therefore they were exempt from applying for specific grants.
Alderman Hussey expressed his admiration to those in the Foyle Hospice and indeed everyone involved in palliative care. He asked if the Hospice had a unique selling point compared to other organisations who relied on fundraising. He stated that with organisations involved in palliative care there was the potential for services to become duplicated and asked if this could be avoided by closer co-operation between organisations. He then referred to the presentation and noted that there was no reference made to administrative costs at the Hospice and asked what percentage of the budget was used to cover those costs.
In response, Mr Henderson stated that the final page of their annual reports outlined the funding sources and how they were allocated across the various services. He stated that there were other charities within the council area that carried out tremendous work in other and in similar areas. He outlined that the Hospice worked in partnership with Marie Curie and MacMillan Cancer Care and had also benefitted from help by the Allied Health Professionals who provided services to a number of Foyle Hospice patients. He stated that in terms of a unique selling point, the Foyle Hospice was a local charity for the local community and that all of the money that came into the organisation was used for the local community. He stated that the post of palliative care doctor at Foyle Hospice was a shared post with Altnagelvin Area Hospital.
Mrs McIntyre stated that Foyle Hospice was constantly improving services for patients and their families. She further stated that Foyle Hospice was a wonderful facility and extended an invitation to Members to visit their facility.
Councillor O’Reilly stated that he was encouraged by the progression of the services available at the Foyle Hospice, particularly in helping children cope with bereavement. He noted that a charity in the city that had provided a similar service had now ceased to operate which had created a void for this type of provision. He stated that he would like to take the opportunity to visit the hospice and suggested that a delegation of Councillors visit to see how they could offer practical help to support the organisation and promote the children’s service.
Councillor Donnelly stated that he wished to pay tribute to the staff at the Foyle Hospice. He stated that a diagnosis such as cancer was indiscriminate and as such had touched all sections of our communities which would otherwise be divided. He added that the Hospice had the full support of everyone throughout community and he hoped this would continue.
Alderman Thompson referred to the service for Compassionate Communities and noted that funding would be available until March 2019. He queried if there was any indication if the service would continue after that date.
In response, Mr Henderson stated that a forthcoming meeting was scheduled to take place with the Integrated Care Partnership who facilitated the funding for that project. He stated that they would be making a request for long term recurrent funding for 2019/20, however if they were unsuccessful, a back-up plan in terms of alternative funding was in place. He stated that they were also looking at other potential income streams such as the Big Lottery Fund and noted that an application to the fund was pending. He further stated that in terms of Council support he wished to express gratitude to Councillors, Mr Donaghy, Head of Health and Community Wellbeing who was also a member of the Project Management Board for the Compassionate Cities Project for their support in moving forward with the Compassionate Cities Charter and Mr Murray, Senior Environmental Health Officer for providing support from a Council perspective.
Mr Henderson outlined that a proposal had been made to expand the Compassionate Communities Project, however, there were resourcing issues and discussions with funders were taking place on how the Hospice intended to progress and expand the project. He stated that the Board of Trustees at Foyle Hospice were committed long term in principle if there was an opportunity to provide funding. However they had undertaken a commitment to fund the project in the short term if funding was not forthcoming from elsewhere. He added that if fifty percent funding on a recurrent basis was agreed then another source of income to make up the shortfall had to be identified.
Councillor Robinson echoed the sentiments expressed by the previous speakers regarding the valuable work carried out by the hospice within the community. He referred to the financial deficit and asked what affect this had on their services.
In response, Mr Henderson stated that in the short to medium term the deficit in funding would not impact on services provided by Foyle Hospice. He outlined that reserves were available, however they were not sustainable. He stated that the Hospice did not currently have a committed resource for submitting grant applications, however this was under consideration for future projects.
He further stated that the current economic situation had an impact on funding as people only had a finite amount of money and were therefore unable to donate as generously as they had in the past. He also referred to the current culture of paying for goods by card which was something to be addressed going forward. He then referred to Foyle Hospice Copper Hunt collection boxes at retailers and businesses throughout the city and stated that donations to this were also decreasing year on year. He stated that a significant amount of money was still being raised with £124,000 in 2018, however several years ago it was upward of approximately £170,000.
The Chair echoed the sentiments expressed by Members and stated that he was acutely aware of the excellent service provided by Foyle Hospice. He stated that a number of challenges faced by the organisation had been outlined and that with their ongoing work and the help of the community it was hoped that they would be in a position to face those challenges going forward. He wished them well in their endeavours and thanked them for their presentation.