What does a relatively small NGO have in common with big pharma?


Interesting, many people comment on how long the 50 minute drive must be from my home in Elora to the hospice in Inglewood, personally, I see it as nothing but a gift.  The drive is beautiful; with gorgeous sunrises, an abundance of fall colours and mist covered hills, it’s a wonderful start to the day and a great opportunity to reflect on the people I have met and the things I have learned.

This Pulse assignment is proving to be an amazing experience all the way around.

I’m more than half way through my assignment.  With less than two months to go, the whole Accreditation Team feels the time constraints, and wonders how they will care for patients, support family members, manage the day to day operations of a hospice, and dedicate time to completing this phase of the accreditation process.  The anxiety around our next deadline, November 17, a date set for a test-run with our consultant to determine if we are ready to be surveyed, is building.  When stress runs high, staying focused on the number one goal helps.   At first thought it is the importance of achieving a 3 year accreditation, a stamp of operational excellence that shows we are patient centered, have strong leadership, manage risk and continuously work towards improving the quality of our service, etc. But ultimately our number one goal is to continue to receive funding, allowing the hospice to welcome residents and their families to a place they can call home at a time when they need it most. Every single day I see and hear families thanking the staff and volunteers at the hospice for their support, kindness, and the care they have received.  Their images and words are crystal clear; leaving me energized and motivated to give everything I can to this amazing organization.

One thing that has surprised me is the number of similarities between GSK and Bethell Hospice.  What could big pharma have to do with a relatively small NGO?  Well for starters, they are both patient focused.  Putting patients at the heart of everything we do is a privilege, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility, and the importance of mitigating risk through good governance is essential in both environments.  Some of the staff and volunteers struggle with the idea of accreditation, “it seems like now there is a rule or policy for everything”. There is Competency Training / e-learning’s, etc., they question, “Is this worth it, is this necessary?”  The fear is, policies and processes will ultimately take away the personal touch and strip Bethell Hospice of its heart and soul.  Interesting, as a Territory Manager, I can relate to how they are feeling as it wasn’t too long ago that I had to adapt to a “new way of working”.  I find it somewhat ironic, through this project, I now have a greater appreciation for the importance of good governance and I’m the one advocating and promoting the value and importance.  I recall being concerned the personal touch in my calls would be stifled, but over time, I can see this hasn’t been the case.  As Territory Managers, we still have the opportunity to show our passion, values and authenticity in our interactions with HCPs, regardless of policies.   I’ve had many conversations with staff, volunteers and stakeholders and everyone agrees, whether you are a patient, a donor, a tax payer, part of a referral base, an employee or volunteer, you want to know that the organization you are supporting operates with high standards.  The staff and volunteers are the heart and soul of Bethell Hospice.  As a result of accreditation, there may be a few more policies and processes, more planning and critical thinking, but at the end of the day the culture remains the same.  Everything that can be done for a resident will be done for a resident.  The compassion and caring by staff and volunteers is genuine, and in my opinion, nothing can take that away.

Another area which is somewhat of a surprise is the amount of administrative work which is required by a hospice.  There are patient files to be updated, stats to be reported to the LHIN, financial and H.R. requirements etc., etc., in a nutshell, every organization is accountable to someone, whether you are a large corporation, a medical office or a non-profit, we all carry an administrative load which at times feels overwhelming.  It helps to know we are not the only ones, we live in a data driven world, where everything needs to be measured, documented and reported to someone.  There is simply no way around it, regardless of what we do or where we work, it’s life and it has to be done.

Becoming an accredited organization means adopting a very effective management tool.  This PULSE assignment has taught me a great deal about what constitutes good business practice, regardless of the size or type of organization.  I’ve had the great honour of working with some of the most compassionate and inspirational individuals that I have ever met. I know how fortunate I am to have been given this tremendous opportunity and I intend to enjoy every day that I have left on my assignment at Bethell Hospice.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”

– Dr. Jane Goodall




  1. Deborah, thank you so much for comparing and contrasting the similarities of the hospice organization with our pharma organization. I am glad that the development and various aspects of your work with Bethell has helped you be THE ONE who is advocating and promoting the value and importance of good governance. You also really captured me when you mentioned the responsibility aspect of what goes along with caring for patients. I hope I will remember some of the points that you made as well as the ones I am learning on my assignment, and not have so many of these same questions when I get back to my work at GSK. I know you and your team are working very hard. Best of luck to all of you on meeting the deadlines and getting the accreditation. I love your attitude about your daily drive–what a gift, that beautiful scenery!

  2. Hello Deb! Great reflection! It is amazing the similarities between NGOs and GSK, big pharma or any other private stakeholder. PULSE is an amazing opportunity to get and appreciate different perspectives and to realize that, at the end of the day, we are all connected! Looking forward to seeing you in January, time does fly!!!!

  3. Debbie, I’m so very impressed by your initiative during this PULSE project. I’m happy that this has been a challenging but rewarding endeavor for you. Discovering the positive in the ordinary, the potential in the opportunity and the satisfaction in the steps forward – even with struggle – makes the whole experience an amazing journey of growth for you. Good luck towards the finish line. Way to go Deb!

  4. Deb, you captured the essence of the accreditation vs compassionate struggle extremely well. I know that you have been a guiding force in assuring staff and volunteers at Bethell Hospice that their contributions to this organization will only be enhanced by the documentation and processes that you are developing and that client care will become stronger as a result. Continue with the excellence that you are bringing to this role. Can’t wait to hear how you make out on the 17th. I am confident in the outcome. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s