CP 700w x 400h GENERAL 332

Nici O’Dowd

Finance & corporate services director

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“I came to Forget Me Not in February 2015, after 11 years as finance director for an adult hospice in Barnsley. Before that I worked for an events company in London, and prior to that I was in South Africa (where I’m from) where I started my finance career in practice. We moved north from London for family reasons, and I picked the hospice in Barnsley because I was always passionate about working in a caring environment that ultimately changed lives.

Cerebral palsy and hospices

“As a child, I was very close to my cousin Ray, who was born with severe cerebral palsy. I used to help him eat and drink, pushing him around in his wheelchair and doing my best to include him in our games. Ray’s condition came with huge challenges, affecting the whole family, but sadly there were no children’s hospices back then to offer the support we so desperately needed.”

“I was there when my grandma died in a hospice in South Africa. She was at the hospice for less than 24 hours: she’d been fighting to the end, but as soon as she arrived at the hospice it was so peaceful that she just relaxed and was able to let go. Also, my Dad was very ill in hospital when I was working at the hospice in Barnsley. He was too poorly to be moved to the hospice, so they came to him. As a result, he died with dignity, pain-free and comfortable, and with his loved ones all around him.”

“That’s why I’m very conscious that an important part of our role here at Forget Me Not is to help hospitals understand what a difference hospice services can make: care doesn’t have to be intrusive and uncomfortable at the end; it doesn’t have to be all about drips and cannulas; it’s about a having quality of life at all times.

Sustainable, confidence-building growth

“My department covers finance, estates & facilities (catering, housekeeping, the building and grounds), health & safety (especially across care and our shops), ICT and corporate risk. One of the most rewarding times in my job was introducing our financial and activity reporting systems and building a ‘data journey’ to capture critical information from right across the organisation. This allows us to understand and measure our activity so that we can make informed decisions.

This matters because we need to demonstrate value for money, giving our supporters confidence that every £1 donated is used to do ‘the right things, in the right ways’. We are relentlessly looking for efficiencies: we now offer more care, for 52% more families, than this time last year, and yet our care costs are lower.

Why I work here

“I live in Barnsley, and am proud to be mum to two sons; one at university, the other doing his GCSEs. They’ve grown up volunteering, and are very aware of the hardships people can go through. I work here because of the difference we make to families’ lives – but we need to reach a lot more families, and a big part of my role is making sure that our growth is well-planned and sustainable.”