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Trustees' Week - 6 to 10 November - Introducing Liz Fox

Monday 6th November

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Farleigh Hospice is a charity, governed by a Board of Trustees. They are responsible for ensuring that Farleigh is solvent, well-run and meets its purpose.

Our eleven trustees each make a valuable contribution to Farleigh. They bring their own talents, viewpoints and experiences to the Board and their individual committees, to support us in achieving our objectives. During national Trustees’ Week we have been celebrating their achievements, along with the other one million trustees across the UK.

Here, we talk to Liz Fox – a trustee since 2019 - about her roles as Farleigh’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and representative on the Clinical Governance Committee.

What is your professional background and experience?

I trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street and The London Hospital before moving into community nursing. For the last 20 years, I have specialised in safeguarding, working in partnership with statutory agencies. I retired from the NHS in 2017 and now work as a Care Quality Commission (CQC) children’s service inspector.

What motivated you to become a trustee at Farleigh Hospice?
I wanted to undertake voluntary work that used my clinical background but moved me away from children’s safeguarding work. I also had two close relatives who had been cared for beautifully by Farleigh Hospice and wanted to offer something back.

How do you think your skills and experience best add value?
I have a broad understanding of the health system with lots of transferable skills of listening to patients/clients and families. I have a particular interest in quality assurance and how you work with staff and management to improve patients’ experiences.

What is the most important thing to you when you are acting in your role as a trustee?
Considering the patient’s perspective in all our decisions.

What is a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian (FSUG)?
They are an individual nominated by an organisation to be available to staff to support them to speak up when they feel unable to use other routes. I like the terminology ‘Speak Up, Listen Up, Follow Up’ to describe what should happen. An important element is the confidentiality offered to the person contacting the FSUG.

What is the main purpose of the FSUG role?
To support and empower staff and practitioners to talk openly of their concerns relating to patient care and for them to feel listened to. It’s important that Farleigh uses staff information to reflect and takes the opportunity to learn from those sharing information.

Can you provide some examples of the kind of issues that you can support with?
There could be many examples but it may relate directly to patient care, poor response to issues raised on patient safety or unsafe working conditions. Farleigh has recently linked the FSUG policy to grievance and whistleblowing policies to help with identifying what approach to take. I see part of my role, when necessary, is to listen and signpost to a different process if that is more appropriate.

How do you support people to find a resolution to the issue they have contacted you about?
My experience is that people do not come to a decision to raise a concern lightly and it often takes courage, so it is important to be respectful and timely in my response. I would wish to support by listening and having open discussions on what the person wants to do and how I can facilitate them to raise an issue and reach a resolution.

What is important to you when acting in your role as a Freedom to Support Guardian?
I can’t emphasise enough the listening, supporting the person to work through what their concern is and what I can do to support them being heard. I am aware that it often takes courage to contact the FSUG so I would wish to be responsive and timely. I have to say that is sometimes a challenge, due to not being available as a full-time member of staff, however I do get alerted when an email comes into the box to assist with this.

How does the FSUG role support Farleigh to ensure we are delivering high quality care?
It is important to me to be part of a process that continually strives for a culture of learning and improvement. Sometimes that is challenging but I want to support staff and managers when thinking ‘could we do this differently?’

To find out more about Liz and our other trustees, please visit Trustees - Farleigh Hospice