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Region’s population growth challenges high on agenda for new Hospice chair

Margaret Devlin has this week taken the reins from Alastair Calder who is stepping down.

Hospice Waikato Chief Executive Craig Tamblyn said that the organisation’s success is because it is always evolving for staff, and leadership and the Board to best meet the ongoing challenges

“We’re hugely grateful to Alastair for his contribution. He’s guided Hospice Waikato to where it is today, establishing a very solid foundation for the future.”

Calder has been a trustee since 2005 and board chair since 2010

“He’s seen us through substantial growth and restructure, as Hospice Waikato moved from a cottage industry to now being the second largest palliative care specialist in the country.”

Devlin is now tasked with ensuring Hospice Waikato continue to meet the region’s ongoing palliative care needs into the future.

“We have to ensure we have an organisation that is always fit for purpose and for the future, so we’ll be taking the opportunity to look at our strategy. We have an opportunity to ask how we can best deliver our services and to still be innovative in how we do that,” Devlin said.

“It’s not an ageing population that we are concerned about because people of any age come through the service. Instead, it’s about understanding the marketplace, understating the demographic, in a growing region with growing population to ensure that the service we provide is appropriate for the people who need it.”

About 70 per cent of Hospice Waikato’s revenue comes from the Waikato DHB, with the balance stemming from its commercial arm – that is, its fundraiser events such as the Bucket List Banquet, and second-hand stores – which accounts for around $4.6million a year.

“From a business perspective it makes sense for us to look at our commercial arm and to see if there are better ways to do that, and whether we need to further diversify our revenue streams to ensure our long-term financial sustainability. Because what it boils down to is that we want to ensure this service remains completely free to every person and their families who need it,” Devlin said.

The region’s population surge in the past five years, driven primarily by Auckland house prices, isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. With new transport corridors set to open and businesses looking to move their operations to the regions to tap into affordable housing and transport hubs, Hospice Waikato is increasingly mindful of how they can continue to deliver services to an increasing population.

“Now is the time to ask how we can deal with that challenge, but we also view it as an opportunity to work with that growing population to address this,” Tamblyn said.

Part of that, Devlin said, is also about telling Hospice Waikato’s story.

“The services we provide isn’t just for people with cancer; it’s for people with any life limiting illness. And it’s certainly not just about what we do at [the inpatient unit or Rainbow Place] at Cobham Drive

“We work with families all around the Waikato and because no two people… no two families are ever the same, the work we do is tailored to what they need. And we need to tell people that. We need to tell those stories about what we do and the difference that we make.”

Devlin is a professional company director with extensive governance and executive experience in the water and infrastructure sector both in New Zealand and the UK. She serves on a wide range of boards throughout New Zealand with a particular focus on people and culture.  She is an active and vocal supporter of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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