ellenor is more than a hospice – it’s a hospice with an ethos:
“Hospice care in your home or ours.”
It’s a commitment to delivering seamless, personalised hospice care for life-limited patients – and their families – in the local community, in the environment that suits them best. But the service ellenor provides to its patients in the North Kent and Bexley communities is also based upon the values of caring, focused and inclusive.
Which begs the question – who, exactly, is that community made up of? And can you fully do justice to its needs without a crystal-clear understanding of the many diverse demographics within it: whether they be cultural, religious, or socioeconomic?
Furthermore, without adequate representation of these groups within a charity like ellenor – not only on the payroll, but in positions of leadership – can it really claim to be a reflection of its own community makeup?
It’s these kinds of questions which prompted ellenor to apply for a grant from the Masonic Foundation. This grant was successful, and the funding allowed ellenor to employ an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Consultant, Anna Willson. A Gravesend local with over a decade’s experience managing the delivery of palliative care projects within the community, Anna will work with the ellenor staff and volunteers, their patients and the local community to develop ellenor’s EDI strategy over the next year.
Supervised by ellenor’s CEO Vikki Harding and mentored by Harjit Bansal, Head of EDI at the North East London Foundation Trust, Anna will audit ellenor’s current EDI processes. Through data gathering, best practice analysis, and local and national research, Anna will create a strategic plan to include increasing the accessibility of ellenor’s services to patients and improving the diversity of its workforce.
As part of this EDI strategy, ellenor is actively engaging with organisations that support people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – particularly the Sikh community. There is, after all, a large Sikh population in Kent, with over 4,700 Sikhs making up 9.1% of the local population.
Despite this, only 3% of the patients referred to ellenor in 2020/21 were from non-white backgrounds, and, from a nationwide perspective, only 2% of Sikhs in the UK live in care homes. According to ellenor’s contact at the North Kent Gurdwara – the focal point of the Sikh community in the UK – Sikhs tend to prefer caring for family at home, and there is a cultural stigma around accessing hospice care.
ellenor is also working with Porchlight, a charity which advocates for homeless people.
Individuals in this group often have multiple diagnoses related to sleeping rough, such as cirrhosis of the liver and alcohol-related dementia. Exacerbated by substance abuse and alcohol dependency, these conditions render the need for palliative care services among the homeless community as disproportionate to the actual availability – and visibility – of them.