A good cause: ‘we do what others forget’
17 March 2017
Amy Ledingham, Head of Fundraising, reflects upon why she came to work for The Point of Care Foundation and why she still feels passionate that what we do is unique and valuable.
You’ve dedicated the last 18 months of your life working for a charity that you are really passionate about. You’ve worked on proposals, campaigned, and spoken about your organisation from the bottom of your heart. You’ve worked tirelessly to meet the targets that were assigned to you, in often restricted time parameters. But it was all worth it because your fundraising efforts have ensured that life changing projects have been able to take place, making a difference to countless people’s lives. But one day, you head to work, sit at your computer, and you simply feel burnt-out.
It is an often too familiar story. No, fundraisers are not on the frontline pulling bodies from collapsed buildings or counselling patients that have suffered domestic abuse. But our role is there to ensure that our colleagues get the money they need so that they can continue to provide help to the beneficiaries that are in need, whilst making sure donors have a project that they feel passionate enough about to give money to.
So when it happened to me I made the decision that it was time to start the daunting task of looking for a new cause that I could fundraise for. With emails and phonecalls from charity recruiters flying in, I had to make the decision of which of the 195, 289 registered charities in the UK I would next work for. But how do you pick one? What could I really see myself talking about for the next few years?
Along came The Point of Care Foundation. Not a charity that I had heard of and with no fundraising programme in place, I knew this was going to be a tough job. But, 1 year later, filled with highs and lows, I can honestly say that what remains constant is that I believe that the Foundation’s cause is a good one. A great one. A unique one.
We all use the NHS, whether us personally, or a loved one who needs urgent support. When we walk through the doors into the doctors or a hospital, we expect the quickest diagnosis and the best quality of care at all times.
How often do we think about the doctors and nurses that are working to provide care? Do we wonder how long they have been on their feet that day? Or when they were last able to take a break? Or simply get something to eat or drink?
We have all heard a story about something happening to a friend, family member or to us personally, when the care delivered wasn’t the best. But it’s not a case of good and bad doctors and nurses. Healthcare staff are confronted with brutal situations on a regular basis: patients and families angered by long waiting times; patients suffering drawn-out, sometimes painful deaths; complex clinical diagnoses; and the daily pressures of working in under-resourced settings. And in addition to this, as we too often see in the media, staff are then blamed for not being caring enough, rather than recognised and supported in what they do and the pressure that are leaving them burnt-out.
Staff support is not a priority for the government, and does not fall at the top of the agendas for most hospitals. But how can it not? The NHS, as widely documented in the press, is at a point of crisis, but surely change starts with working to build a supported and cared for workforce? If the job is making doctors sick, why not fix the job rather than the doctors? How can we possibly expect healthcare staff to be able to deliver the best care for us in a compassionate way if they have no time to process the difficult and challenging emotions they are confronted with on a daily basis?
The Point of Care Foundation does something about this. Something really special. We do what others forget: we think about staff. Through our services, which includes unique reflective practice for clinical and non-clinical staff, and methods of quality improvement involving patients, we help to create an environment where staff are able to care compassionately for their patients. We have to care for staff first if we are going to walk through that hospital door and expect them to care for us.
As the only organisation in the UK that provides this work, I know that our work is invaluable and that each day we will continue to campaign, support and fight for improvements for our NHS staff. I believe in this cause. This is why when I wake up in the morning, I feel passionate about heading into the office and setting about the difficult task of sourcing funding for our work which, to me, could not be more important.