This month we welcome Simon Caraffi of St Peter’s Hospice, to our regular series of interviews with leading figures in the South West business community.
Hello Simon tell us about St Peter’s Hospice and your role as Chief Executive:
St Peter’s Hospice is an adult hospice covering the greater Bristol area. We look after around 2,500 people per year and provide a variety of care services. We have an inpatient facility at Brentry with 18 beds, ‘day hospice’ for outpatient use, community nurses and ‘hospice at home’ services that provide care to patients and their families in their homes. We are a registered charity and get 22% of our funding from the NHS, the other 78% comes from our fundraising activities. We have a commercial side, operating 46 shops throughout the region, the clinical side that provides care services and the administration side that facilitates our work. My job as Chief Executive is to make sure that all the elements work together and go in the same direction!
How has the economic recession impacted your business?
We are on the last year of our 3 year NHS contract which is a concern; we are not entirely sure how future funding will look. Our commercial arm is doing very well in the current environment, I think that charity shops have an advantage over regular retail outlets in tough times. It’s also important to point out that we are highly dependent on voluntary donations and the local community are still being generous with their contributions even though there is less money to go around.
What challenges are you facing over the next 12 months?
Finance is the key issue for us. The NHS statutory funding structure has changed considerably since our last application. We may have to become more sophisticated and develop new skills in order to win bids in competition with the commercial sector.
Do you think that the government should intervene more?
I don’t have many general complaints for the Government, the Gift Aid system is particularly welcome. However, I would like greater recognition of the value that hospices provide the NHS. It would also be good if the government did more to recognise the unique role of charities in the economy, especially in regard to their social impact. In particular we want to ensure that NHS commissioners will be able to acknowledge the extra value we bring when setting contracts.
What is your view on the South West region?
St Peter’s is thoroughly embedded within the South West. Because of the nature of their work, hospices have very strong links with the communities they serve. The local community in the South West is extremely supportive and we greatly appreciate all the ways they help us.
Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships? If so, what have you learned from the experience?
I don’t have any advisory roles at the moment, but until recently I was trustee of The Tank Museum, a legacy from my army days.
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?
Walk the floor: get to know the staff working your front line, your customers and how they work. You should be seen to be engaged.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Whenever I have the time you can find me waist deep in a river fly fishing.
Who is your hero/personal inspiration?
I do not have one particular person that I would regard as a ‘hero’. I have been inspired by many different excellent but unsung people over my career.
What is on your I-Pod and what are you reading right now?
I take full advantage of the CDs and second hand books available in St Peter’s Hospice shops! My latest music purchases are a Rat Pack compilation and Jimi Hendrix CD and I’m reading a biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor.
Working with Moon Consulting
I met with Moon Consulting soon after I was appointed to St Peters Hospice, and I know they are a very well connected Executive Recruiter with links in the Charity sector and local community.