ON International Nurses Day (Wednesday, May 12) Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice for Wales, announced the permanent appointment of Deborah Ho, as Director of Care.
Tŷ Hafan provides care and support for more than 270 children with a life-limiting condition and their families across Wales and has remained open throughout the pandemic.
Deb, who is from Barry, South Wales, first joined Tŷ Hafan as a Trustee in 2018, and was appointed Director of Care on a fixed term basis in March 2020, just as lockdown began.
Now, with restrictions lifting, the charity has announced her appointment to the role on a permanent basis.
Maria Timon Samra, Chief Executive at Tŷ Hafan, said: “Having infamously joined on an interim basis on the first day of the first lockdown last year, Deb has been confirmed as our permanent Director of Care.
“It has been a privilege to witness at first-hand her passion and her absolute commitment to our purpose, and the considered, professional leadership she brings to the charity and to the care team.
“Deb has been positive and resolute in leading our care services throughout one of the most challenging periods in our history.
“As well as ensuring our doors remained open for crisis and end-of-life care throughout both the pandemic and refurbishment, Deb has already instigated a ‘First Positive Steps’ programme of change to ensure we provide the best possible care to the children and families who need us, both at the hospice and in the community.
“In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, Deb has been instrumental in completing our Family Voices project.
“She has also supported us to secure Covid grant funding and in preparing a Lifeline Fund proposal for Welsh Government seeking sustainable funding for children’s hospices in Wales.”
Deb, who leads the care team in both the charity’s hospice in Sully, near Cardiff, and in the community across Wales, started her career at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said.
“It wasn’t in my family, but it was really important to me and just something that I always wanted to do.”
While at St Barts, Deb developed an interest in cancer and palliative care, and after moving to the Royal Marsden Hospital, gained specialist qualifications in palliative care.
Subsequent roles include Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, Director of Patient Services and Deputy Chief Executive at Prospect Hospice in Swindon and Senior Manager Member Vulnerability, Access and Inclusion at Nationwide Building Society.
Now, as Director of Care for Tŷ Hafan, Deb is leading the 22-year-old charity’s Care team onto the next stage of its evolution.
“This really is a fantastic role,” she added.
“The charity’s executive team is in great shape and we are developing services which are ever more relevant and applicable.
“Plus we are ready to respond to the increasing challenges of demand and complexity.
“For me, it is all about leveraging the rich heritage of Tŷ Hafan, to meet the needs of our children and families, and to continue to develop our diverse, skilled and multi-professional team of doctors, nurses, family support workers, and a range of specialist therapists.
“It’s all about making sure that the right care and support is available for the right children, at the right place and at the right time.”
And as for those first few days in post as the UK entered lockdown in March 2020?
“I don’t really remember much about it,” says Deb.
“It was a time like no other.
“I am incredibly grateful to have been a Trustee – to have had that background, and I am so grateful for the experience that that gave me.
“But most of all it was reassuring to know that we were going through the pandemic – this incredibly challenging period of time – with others. Those extraordinary circumstances generated lot of anxiety and uncertainty but my team has been very flexible and incredibly committed.
“They have been there for our children and families every step of the way.
“I am immensely proud of them and I would also like to say thank you to them for the support and confidence they had in me too.
“I hope that that when they look on that period they will feel justifiably proud.”