Havens Hospices is a charity which provides specialist palliative care for people diagnosed with complex or incurable conditions. Fair Havens supports adults living in Southend, Castle Point and Rochford, whilst Little Havens cares for babies, children, and young people across Essex. They took the opportunity to work with Essex MBA student Yewande Savage for her MBA consultancy project.
We spoke to both Yewande and Havens Hospices to hear their experiences of participating in the project.
Can you outline your project with Havens Hospices?
The aim of the project was to assess and evaluate the awareness perception of the Hospice in the local community and investigate if there are preferences for similar Hospices. The aim was that this information would help in shaping the services of Havens Hospices in a way that better serves the local community.
Why were you interested in working on this specific project? How does it relate to your past experiences or your passions?
I am committed to giving back to both society and my community. This is why I am pursuing a career in social impact, and this project gave me the opportunity to work in a professional area that I am extremely passionate about.
My project with Havens Hospices was particularly personal to me because I lost a relative to cancer a few years back. It therefore aligns with one of my long-term ambitions which is to set up a non-profit organisation that would support cancer research and provide care for vulnerable groups battling the disease.
Where did the consultancy project fit within your overall Essex MBA experience?
I would say it was the icing on the cake. The consultancy project was one of the highlights of my MBA. It was an opportunity to apply what I learnt during the programme.
It gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills from modules such as strategy, strategic marketing, and the Directors’ Workshops. I was able to think outside the box and proffer creative solutions to the client’s problems. I can honestly say I enjoyed carrying out my consultancy project, it was different, and I met some amazing people during the process.
How do you think the charity will benefit from your project?
Using the findings gathered during the project, I have offered strong and actionable recommendations through carefully mapped out strategies. My project has also drawn attention to untapped opportunities that would enable the Hospice to serve its community better.
Has carrying out this project helped with your future career plans? If so, how?
Yes, it most certainly has. It has given me a better understanding of how charities work, especially hospices. It also boosted my confidence in taking on challenging and daunting tasks. It made me better aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
The overall experience and learning also served as a stepping stone to my current role as Customer Intelligence Lead at Essex County Council where I use data to make lives better.
Amy explains the fundraising requirement of Havens Hospices: “Our care takes place both within the hospices and the local community and extends to the patient’s family and loved ones. As our care is free of charge, we must raise more than £7m every year. This is achieved through donations, events, charity shops and gifts left in wills.”
Please tell us about the MBA consultancy project set by Havens Hospices.
Fair Havens is one of several healthcare providers within the mid and south-Essex footprint. Whilst we have been established for 40 years, there are still many misconceptions about the hospice – who we can help and the type of support that is on offer. We know that early intervention in a person’s diagnosis can mean better outcomes for them and their family. Therefore, educating the community, and in particular GP’s, about the referral process and criteria, is an ongoing focus for us.
Why did you want to work with an Essex MBA student on this project?
It was important to have an independent and bias-free approach to the project. The business lens and framework that an Essex MBA student would bring to the project meant we could look at challenges from a different perspective.
What key skills and benefits did Yewande bring to the charity?
Yewande was very methodical in her approach to the project. Her communication skills were second to none and she ensured that we were kept updated every step of the way. What impressed me most was Yewande’s dedication to the project, gathering knowledge and information about the intricacies of hospice care, commissioning structures, referral processes and barriers.
What learnings have you taken away from this project and how will it help the charity?
It has cemented, with evidence, that there are still gaps in knowledge and understanding of hospice care among our stakeholders. We have embedded engagement and education within our organisational strategy to try and close these. This should mean that more people will be referred for hospice support earlier in their diagnosis, reducing fear and barriers to receiving good palliative care.
For future MBA students, could you tell us what you, as the project client, expect?
I would say clear and regular communication and an agreed brief and outputs. Whilst not essential, I did find it beneficial meeting with Yewande in person too, when she visited the hospice to understand more about the cause.
How would you recommend MBA students prepare for their projects?
I would recommend that the student immerse themselves in the subject matter, whilst keeping a birds-eye view of the issues and challenges that they’re there to observe. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how trivial or challenging they may seem.
Would you recommend other organisations participate in an Essex MBA project?
I recommend tapping into the expertise and knowledge from The Essex MBA to support a project, no matter what your industry. It has helped bring a different perspective to our planning process, using evidence to create a business case for investment, which, as a charity, is particularly important.
Image courtesy of Havens Hospices
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