Background The role of a trustee for a hospice can be daunting and carries a high level of responsibility. Following discussions with other trustees at the hospice and at the Hospice UK Trustee Conference, a survey was devised to ask hospice trustees about their experiences. A literature review found only two examples of surveys for charity trustees - Hospice UK (2018), who canvassed trustees as to how they could support them and Vincent, Harrow and Palmer (1998) who looked at trustee decision making in small UK charities.
Aim The aim of the survey was to discover how trustees can be supported to carry out their role in relation to the three legal duties set out by The Charity Commission:
Act in your charity’s best interest;
Manage your charity’s resources responsibly;
Act with reasonable care and skill (Charity Commission May 2018).
Method A survey using Survey Monkey was sent out to hospice trustees via the CEO of St Helena to other CEOs and via the Hospice UK Chairs Forum.
Results The survey is currently still (at time of writing) open for responses. Initial responses (n=13) suggest that reasons for becoming a trustee included; family member being cared for by the hospice, being asked due to background and wanting to contribute to society. Two thirds of respondents had inductions and further training. A number of trustees contribute to the hospice in additional roles to that of trustee. Trustees commented on the need to keep up to date and have some understanding of the NHS and healthcare provision to carry out the role.
Conclusions Early conclusions suggest the need for training in relation to roles and responsibilities. Good practice includes new trustees having a ‘buddy’, a good administrator, regular updates regarding new documents, national policies and opportunities to interact with other trustees.
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