Last week was Trustee’s week, and Vice Chair of QNIS Council, Linda Pollock, has provided us with a look at life as a Trustee.
I am passionate about improving care to vulnerable people and have been flying the flag for community nursing since 1976, initially, as a district nurse and then as a community psychiatric nurse (when there were only four CPNs for the whole city of Edinburgh). I had teaching and research roles before opting for a management career, and became a Community (and Primary Care) Nurse Director in 1989, in my mid-thirties. I never looked back – and, over time, I gained increasingly onerous roles and responsibilities at Board level which I have loved.
I jumped ship and left my NHS nurse leadership roles in 2006, but since then have found my management and research experience have been put to good use as a Non-Executive Director (NXD) in public sector boards (in the Mental Welfare Commission, the Accounts Commission, the Care Inspectorate, with the NMC and the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission). I have also worked with two charities as a Trustee – with Enable, a charity which campaigns for people with learning disability, and Pain Concern, a third sector organisation advocating for people in chronic pain. I still work with the latter, and am an Independent Prison Monitor.
I became a QNIS Trustee in 2014 because I wanted to continue to be an advocate and ambassador for community nursing, to raise their profile, and ensure they were key players in the health and social care integration – a major driver in current government policy. I wanted the opportunity too, to network with retired Queens’ Nurses and ensure their legacy continues into the future, and that community and primary care nurses learn from the past.
Being a Trustee and NXD means the same thing: meeting with other Trustees, usually quarterly, in a Board Meeting. QNIS calls its board a Council, and it is here that plans are made. We work collectively as Trustees and take strategic, long term decisions. We make sure the charity works within budget, uses its funds in line with its constitution, and importantly – that it thrives and continues for years to come.
Does being a trustee take up a lot of time? That’s a bit like asking, how long is a piece of string. QNIS Council is made up totally of volunteers (a minimum of 5, maximum of 15): some have full time, paid work but all are busy, and the QNIS work you get involved in depends on your experience, skills, willingness and the issues at hand. All the Trustees do extra work out-with Council meetings, on committees, at long service awards, helping to organise the annual conference or events, like our recent Open Doors where the public viewed our Board room walls which permanently illustrate the 130 year history of QNIS and district nursing.
The Trustees share their wealth of knowledge and experience to help QNIS grow e.g. we recently bought the basement flat below HQ; we could not have done this without the expertise of our legal Trustee and financial colleagues on Council.
For my part, Clare Cable, has describe me as the governance guru, and I tend to get involved in what some folk would describe as the boring ‘management’ bits like health and safety, staff governance, disbursing funds for the Catalysts for Change research projects. I must say, I have really enjoyed everything I have got involved in. The highlight of my work, to date, has been doing “Path to Impact” which benchmarked QNIS and demonstrated that we are one of the best performing charities in Scotland. Working with QNIS and helping the organisation increase its profile, has, for me, been like ‘coming home.’
All the work that QNIS Trustees do is productive, and although it takes preparation time, the wonderful staff at Castle Terrace do all the hard work – taking forward the actions resulting from our discussions and decisions. Annually, we have a day where QNIS Trustees and staff work together – to take stock of what we have done, and plan ahead. This is an important activity to make sure we all work well as a team – the best part is the evening dinner and social time we have together.
We are currently looking for Trustees who have fundraising and digital strategy experience; if you want to find out more about the role go onto our website, and if you are keen to apply to be a member of Council – you will need to be quick, and do so before the 9th December!