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Meet Mike, ellenor’s Head of IT (and Learn How IT Lays the Foundations for High-Quality Patient Care)

As Head of IT at ellenor, Mike wears many hats.

Creating budgets; setting ellenor’s IT strategy; managing the hospice charity’s array of IT vendors and suppliers; securing its sensitive patient data from leaks and misuse.

It’s a complex set of responsibilities. But for Mike, his role – and IT’s role within a charity – has a simple, yet profound, function.

“My role,” he explains, “is to make sure our staff have the right equipment, in the right place, to do their job well."

We have so many wonderful people on our frontline, working with patients and their families day in, day out, and an army of back office people: be they HR, PR, marketers, or our lovely fundraisers.

- Mike, ellenor's Head of IT

“All of them, in one way or another, depend on IT. But IT is in the organisation to support it – not drive it. I’m simply that backstop, providing the support and systems our teams need to be able to make the positive impact they do every day.”

How important is IT for supporting ellenor’s staff?

And, through them, the patients and families the charity cares for?

“IT is everything behind the care; behind the scenes,” Mike explains. “It’s not just the laptops, or the monitors. It’s the telephone systems; mobile phones for our field-based teams; our patient records system; databases for our supporters, and for maintaining the relationships we have with other local hospices and organisations.”

Every time a phone rings at ellenor, with a family member asking after their loved one, IT makes the conversation possible. Every time a nurse arrives at a patient’s home in the community – already equipped with the patient’s name, and key details about their profile and condition – IT has enabled that quick-fire exchange of information.

And Mike enables that IT – the rapid, reliable infrastructure upon which ellenor’s entire range of services is built and supported on. But it wasn’t always that way.

When Mike arrived at ellenor – first as a volunteer, working two days a week – ellenor’s systems were old. Outdated. Becoming unsupported and slow.

“Previously, ellenor’s IT methods and solutions were quite clunky,” Mike explains. “Remote staff had to connect back to ellenor from outside the building to access their emails, patient records and other key information (all of which was maintained on site). Many other systems were also ill-equipped for remote access.”

Mike’s remit? To bring ellenor’s IT setup into the 2020s. But this, of course, meant dealing with the thing that, so far, has defined that decade – the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19, from an IT standpoint, was extremely challenging” says Mike, “because we really weren’t set up to quickly mobilise our staff. We have teams out in the community who are set up with laptops and phones to support the field-based critical services they provide. But when the pandemic hit, there were suddenly a lot of other departments that didn’t have the equipment they needed to work from remotely.”

The response? Migrating many of ellenor’s core IT services to be cloud based empowering staff with seamless but managed access to the data and tools they rely on. Embracing the cloud and ensure ensuring all ellenor staff’s devices are encrypted, traceable, and safeguarded against data breaches and unauthorised access attempts was key to this transformation.



Over three years since the pandemic began, Mike is still committed to the evolution and expansion of ellenor’s IT services.

“We’re always looking at the best solutions for team mobility – and how to satisfy the agile working needs of our staff. There are always better solutions out there; my job is to identify them, and steer the revision and review of what we’ve got now aligned with available funding.”

More recently, Mike has helped oversee the implementation and adoption of EMIS – a clinical software solution widely used across Kent’s GP surgeries, hospitals, and other hospices. EMIS replaced ellenor’s previous bespoke patient records system delivering automated sharing of relevant authorised information between ellenor and nearby GPs, surgeries, and relevant health transport services to enhance the timeliness and quality of support and care provided to patients.

“EMIS quickly gets our clinical teams up to speed: ensuring they have rapid access to the most relevant patient information. If they can’t get those crucial patient record details before they enter a home – or if they have a problem accessing a laptop or signing in – they’re not on the front foot when they cross that threshold. This is one reason why IT is so important.”

For someone who’s managed teams of global managers – operating at a senior level within IT at one of the largest financial organizations in the world - the non-profit space might feel like a world away from the corporate world’s cutting edge.

But Mike is loving life at ellenor.

1. For one, it’s a family affair. His mum used to volunteer here, and his sister worked in what’s now known as the Hospice at Home team – providing care for patients with life-limiting conditions, from their own homes throughout Kent and Bexley. Mike’s now-wife, previously also worked at ellenor in a number of personal and group community administration roles.

2. For another? ellenor is local.

“Ultimately, being on my doorstep,” – Mike, who can walk to ellenor’s Coldharbour Road-based inpatient ward in around six minutes, explains – “I wanted to give some of my time back to my community. And help deliver a vital service to the local area.”

3. Three? ellenor offers something not even the largest salary, or most prestigious corporate title, can provide. A purpose.

And, discussing the extraordinary levels of care ellenor’s wide range of teams provide every day, Mike becomes visibly emotional.

"Some of our wonderful people – who elect to work with sick and dying children, or patients coming into the ward for the final days of their life – I don’t know how they do it. I seriously don’t. I’m not a people person on that level, and I certainly couldn’t do what they do; have that day-to-day, direct interaction with patients and families.”

“What I can do, however, is use my skills to support the people who’ve decided to do that – and to help them help others, to the best of my ability. That’s what drives me.”