Clair Holdsworth Appointed Director of Care at Martin House

03 March 2017
At the beginning of its 30th anniversary year, Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People has appointed Clair Holdsworth to the role of Director of Care.

Clair began her career as a physiotherapist, progressing to specialise in musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy. She took on her first leadership role in 2008, managing a multidisciplinary team across community and acute care at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. Clair made her transition to children’s palliative care in 2013. She explains:

“What drew me to children’s palliative care was the time given to caring, and there was a particular appeal for me in the one to one care given to children and young people. It was refreshing to be able to make an impact in a completely different setting where the focus is on doing the best you can for families and making a genuine difference in their lives.” 

“Having previously managed a large team, I felt that I had the skills to develop the team at Martin House. I see my role as helping the hospice to fulfill its potential; creating a team that is able to deliver our ambition and that is inspired to improve in response to the changing needs of the children and young people we support.”

Clair took on the role of Deputy Director of Care at Martin House in July 2016, and then acted as Interim Director of Care from November until her permanent appointment in January this year. The hospice currently supports over 420 children and young people and 150 bereaved families across West, North and East Yorkshire, and Clair recognises that there may be many more families in the region who would benefit from support.

She said: “Martin House is well-established and has much to offer families. The focus on a home from home environment is complemented by our specialist medical cover, which is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This support is invaluable for both families and professionals. However, we face many challenges as an organisation. As well as reduced funding for health and social care placing increased pressure on families, we face a huge task in ensuring we can provide equitable, sustainable care across a wide geographical area.

“We will be working closely with health and social care professionals in the region, looking particularly at unmet need and how Martin House can complement care offered by other providers. We want everyone who is caring for or working with a life-limited child or young person to be aware of Martin House and what we can offer.

“We also need to do more work around dispelling myths. Many people have had experience of adult hospices and they expect a children’s hospice to be similar. But our focus is on considering the whole family, from point of diagnosis through to end of life care and beyond. This journey can take many years and we are there for families throughout. It can also be difficult for people to understand the holistic care offered, the community care available, and the nature of the unique environment we have here at Martin House.

“Part of the challenge ahead lies not just in reacting, but in preempting how things might change. We need to consider the wider health economy and the fact that we have a growing population in terms of need, particularly amongst teenagers and young adults with life-limiting conditions.

“Perhaps most importantly, we need to continue finding innovative ways of communicating with our families. Gaining valuable feedback from those using our services is vital if we are to ensure that our care provision is the best it can be. Everything must start and end with our families, with decisions made for the greater good.”