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Respond, Review, Re-prioritise, Redesign & Rebuild

18 Sep 2020

A NICHS update on how we meet the incoming COVID Challenges

Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) provided further information to staff on how it plans to meet the COVID-19 challenges of addressing an increase in demand for its services whilst delivering these safely and to a continued high standard, amidst a devastating fall in income over the next 12 months. Earlier today, Chief Executive, Declan Cunnane, outlined the findings and next steps identified from an organisational review which was forced on the charity by the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings included a redesign of services and an intention to consult with staff on reducing costs, which may involve losing up to 12 staff.

Declan said: “Since March, our non-legacy voluntary income has fallen by nearly 50% and we do not expect to see a recovery to pre-March 2020 levels for at least several years. With nearly 90% of our vital services and research funded by the generosity of the public, we remain committed to still Caring through COVID but recognise we need to review, reprioritise and redesign all areas of our work in order to properly respond to the needs of people living with, and at risk of, chest, heart and stroke illnesses across Northern Ireland.”

Since the pandemic began, we have taken several important steps to ensure the charity continues to deliver the much-needed care, research, and prevention work. Firstly, we made our service users, volunteers, and staff safe by pausing all face to face services and closing our main office. Secondly, we worked hard to minimise the impact of the crisis on our services so we could continue to save lives. We did this by launching our Emergency COVID Appeal, utilising the Government’s job retention scheme, and reviewing and further reducing our service costs.

In June, the Board and Senior Leadership agreed it was important to review operations as we believed the charity needed to re-prioritise and redesign all areas of its work so we could successfully defeat the huge challenges that will be placed on all our vital services over the next 12 months and beyond.

The review has been completed and the charity has developed a roadmap, which will implemented over the incoming months.

Committed to Addressing the COVID Challenge

Declan continued: “There is no doubt, we are facing the biggest challenge in nearly 75 years of leading the fight against, chest heart and stroke illnesses in Northern Ireland. Despite the courageous commitment of the NICHS Team and supporters, the impact of our life-enhancing and life-changing work is under threat for years to come.”

“We know the challenge is even more difficult for people living with chest, heart and stroke conditions across Northern Ireland as they’re missing out on vital health care, social engagement and regular outdoor exercise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We have been relentless in finding ways to reduce costs and increase income, but unfortunately, we must consider redesigning services if we are to continue to meet current and future service demands safely as well as rebuild and recover.”

“Sadly, the changes we have to make may have an impact on the size of the workforce and we deeply regret the affect this may have on those colleagues who are affected, but we remain determined to explore every option to minimise the number of job losses.”

Committed to Still Caring through COVID

We remain committed to caring for local people living with or at risk of chest, heart, and stroke conditions through COVID-19.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, NICHS has managed to still care through COVID. In the first six months of the pandemic, we’ve helped more than 20,000 callers to keep well and manage their condition. Our help has made a real difference, with:

• 98% of people stating they felt less lonely and isolated

• 95% felt less anxious

• 92% said it helped them keep physically active

In July we announced the establishment of the first community support service for survivors of COVID-19 and began this new service in August.

As we move into the winter months and towards 2021, the charity remains committed to being here for everyone who needs our help through these difficult times.

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