Kirkwood Hospice case study

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Kirkwood Hospice

Client interview with Learning & Development Manager, Chellie Stevenson


Kirkwood Hospice in Kirklees, West Yorkshire provides specialist care free of charge to adults with advanced, progressive illnesses at any time from diagnosis to the end of life. Care and support is also provided for their family members, friends and carers, both during illness and after death. Kirkwood Hospice is a registered charity with 21 shops located around Kirklees which help to raise £2 million for patient care each year. The organisation has 270 permanent staff and almost 800 volunteers.


Chellie Stevenson was appointed as Learning & Development Manager to assess how staff training could be improved to better fit the needs of all Kirkwood’s staff, including the large volunteer workforce. One of the first things she looked at was the e-learning system which was then in use.

“The kind of resource we have in terms of our people and their geographical spread, means that e-learning should be an important part of the way we deliver training. But the free e-learning platform Kirkwood had been using, which is very NHS-based, was just not suitable to cover our needs as an organisation. We have big retail and fundraising facets to the business but the system was very clinically focused.”

The fact that it wasn’t right for the huge volunteer workforce meant they were using an outdated method of training instead, something that Chellie was keen to rectify.

“We’ve got just under 800 volunteers, so our volunteers are hugely important to us, but because the system wasn’t right for them they had reverted to a paper-based training system. Just because many of our volunteers are in an older age group doesn’t mean to say they are IT illiterate, so I wanted to give them the same access, not necessarily to the same learning material, but to the same platform that the rest of our staff is using, because they are such a massive part of what we do. So that meant finding the platform that was right for everyone.”

Easy Course Creation

As an approved Hospice Quality Partnership (HQP) supplier, Kirkwood’s Finance Director could be confident that Relias had already undergone robust due diligence and so recommended the company. Chellie was familiar with half a dozen other providers, but found she was particularly impressed with the functionality to upload/ create your own courses in the Relias system.

“My first impressions were that it was really easy to use, and it looked like something we could work with. One of the most important features I was looking for was being able to upload our own learning material. Yes, we need the standard courses for compliance. But there are others, specific to the needs of our organisation, that we should be looking at creating ourselves. And so that was one of the big things for me. I wasn’t just looking for off-the-shelf generic learning material, because we’d already got that and we weren’t paying for it. If we were going to be paying for something, I wanted the functionality to be able to upload our own too.”

Client Development Manager Jeremy Rowan listened carefully to these requirements and showed Chellie how this could be achieved quickly and easily, without the need for in-depth IT know-how.

“In order to do that the platform needed to be sophisticated but simple to use, because yes I’m familiar with writing e-learning modules, but I’m not a programmer or developer. So it needed to be simple to use both from a learner’s perspective and from an administrator’s perspective as well. Jeremy heard that from our initial conversation, and so that’s exactly what he showed me in his online demo. 20 minutes in, I’m saying to Jeremy, ‘Right, you need to just send me the costings, because I like it and I want to see if I can get it’. That’s how well he listened to what I was looking for in a new platform.”

Free Hospice Volunteer Solution

As well as purchasing access to the Relias learning management system and over 300 courses for its permanent staff, being an HQP partner meant that Kirkwood was also given free access to Relias’ Hospice Volunteer Solution, comprising 15 courses for its volunteers. Topics include Infection Prevention & Control, Information Governance, Fire Safety, Health Safety & Welfare, Safeguarding, and Equality, Diversity & Human Rights. Kirkwood will be adding to these by creating and adding its own courses; Chellie is beginning with a Kirkwood-tailored receptionist training module, teaching reception skills such as call-handling and meeting & greeting.

Kirkwood’s implementation is now underway with support from the Relias Client Care team. Chellie feels she would be happy to recommend the system to other hospices and care organisations.

“It’s easy to use, it’s got everything you need, and the support you get is second to none. It’s straightforward, it’s in plain English — a lot of these companies speak in jargon all the time, but when they’re talking to somebody who’s not as au-fait, the language that’s used to explain the system needs to be clear, and that’s where the Relias team has been fantastic.”


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