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Ever wondered what it’s like to shadow a CEO?

A blog by Basia

We are fortunate when we get the opportunity to gain insight into the professional lives of others, seeing their work and roles from a new perspective. At ellenor, I was privileged to find such an opportunity. 

I was offered the chance to shadow our Chief Executive, Michelle Kabia. She’s seven months into her role and shaping our future direction. Even after six years as ellenor's Public Relations Manager, this experience gave me a fresh perspective on its operations and allowed me to witness Michelle's leadership firsthand. Navigating hospice care, particularly in challenging economic times, is complex. However, the day provided invaluable insights, enhancing my understanding of hospice care's significance and our community impact.

Michelle’s journey in healthcare began in the 1980s as a nurse confronting the stigma and shame surrounding illnesses like cancer. She later became a pioneering force within hospice care, focussing her energy on groundbreaking initiatives for HIV patients. Her innovative programs addressed unique needs, setting a precedent for compassionate healthcare. With over 30 years’ experience working in health, social care and the charity sector, Michelle’s path led her to Mind, where she championed mental health and wellbeing, and eventually to ellenor.

Michelle’s day starts at 8am tackling emails, before engaging directly with her teams connecting with both clinical and non-clinical staff as well as volunteers. Listening to each team’s needs and concerns, all vital for the understanding of overall operations, she could assess progress as they work together to improve the wellbeing of both patients and staff. This process creates an environment where effective collaboration and comprehensive care delivery are prioritised.

High on Michelle’s current agenda is steering the ongoing construction of ellenor’s new Wellbeing Centre designed to broaden services for the community. Working closely with Barnes Construction and ellenor's operational teams, she regularly reviews the build's progress with the teams involved. Michelle demonstrates a keen attention to detail emphasising the significance of even the smallest aspects such as contrasting wall and light switch colours to help individuals with limited vision navigate our spaces. After a quick lunch, it was on to meetings with ellenor's Head of Exec & Clinical Admin and Head of Human Resources to review operational policies and procedures. They spoke about how these policies contribute to fostering a supportive work environment to ensure employee wellbeing and satisfaction. As I listened, I realised the crucial roles these conversations play in shaping our workplace culture and empowering our staff and volunteers. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, we can create an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families.

By now it was 3pm and Michelle along with the director of Human Resources, met with ellenor's Director of Care. The meeting focused on leveraging different platforms to create and share content both inside and outside the organisation.  In a charity where donations are the backbone of the organisation maintaining high standards of care, transparency and a well-trained workforce is crucial.

Throughout the day Michelle consistently referred me back to her overarching strategy and the holistic pillars of hospice care – physical, psychological, social and spiritual care – and demonstrated how she incorporated these pillars into her daily work practices. These pillars serve as our guideposts enhancing our services, supporting our employees and ultimately enriching community care.At 5.30pm my shadowing had come to an end.  I’d come to see more clearly the profound impact of our collective efforts at ellenor. Our mission is to provide care and support to individuals and their families living with life limiting conditions, ensuring they live the best life they can. This mission touches every aspect of what we do, from the clinical care we provide to the emotional support we offer, ensuring no one has to travel their journey alone. Spending the day with Michelle not only deepened my understanding of the strategic and empathetic leadership required to navigate this vital service but also reaffirmed my pride in being part of #teamellenor, an organisation that places such a high value on compassion, dignity and respect.

I’m grateful for this day and for the reminder of the vital role we all play in supporting our local hospice so they can support local people. Thank you, Michelle, for giving me this opportunity.

I loved the day.