About St Clare Hospice
St Clare Hospice is a charity providing specialist palliative care to improve the lives of people affected by a life-limiting illness in West Essex and the borders of East Hertfordshire.
Our approach to care enables people, their families, and carers, to make the most of every moment together, no matter how long they have left to live, supporting them whether at home or in the Hospice.
With limited NHS funding, we need to raise around 60% of our costs each year to provide our vital services; in 2020/21 our costs were £4.6m and this is forecast to rise to over £5m in the next year. We therefore rely on our local community to help us raise money each year so we can continue being there for local families facing one of the most difficult journeys in life.
St Clare and Charterhouse enjoy a long standing relationship that has evolved over time into a trusted partnership. From initially supplying the physical telephony hardware and management of internal network appliances, as well as supplying minutes, lines and internet connectivity, services have extended to a number of other projects. These include delivering a separate telephone system for volunteers so they can access the bereavement line remotely, and expanding on the cyber security solution for the Hospice via Pentesec – part of the Charterhouse Group.
“Experience has taught me that dealing with multiple suppliers can be time and money consuming, so I was keen to consolidate suppliers to one supplier with all the right specialist expertise for our specific needs.” Spencer McBlain – IT Manager, St Clare Hospice
St Clare’s telephony & part of their networking needed upgrading and modernising to build a stronger foundation for the future, and to prepare for the challenges of the Big Switch Off of the Public Service Telephone Network (PSTN) by 2025.
Cyber security was also a growing concern. As a supplier to the NHS there are certain regulatory elements that must be followed, and certain governance is essential. The Hospice had a capable Anti-Virus solution but the need to mature the cyber security solution to be able to address security threats was vital.
The Charterhouse Solution
Charterhouse and St Clare have developed a trusted relationship as each stage of the project element was successfully delivered.
Having previously supplied them with an Avaya phone system, the time had come to review the functionality in line with the needs of the organisation today, and also to address the challenges of the impending PSTN switch off.
Across their eight charity shops, we have replaced traditional phone lines with SoGEA access services augmented with cloud based voice capabilities. It offers a previously unavailable layer of resilience so that should there be any issues with the lines at the main building or across any of their sites, Spencer can log onto a web browser from any location to divert the lines so communications aren’t lost.
For the main hospice site, the installation of a 4G dongle provides an added layer of resilience. If St Clare’s fibre line goes down, communications will automatically revert to 4G.
Another element of the telephony solution that offered greater flexibility to St Clare was a line supplied separately to the main phone lines for the Hospice’s GriefLine support service. This enables hospice volunteers to log onto this separate line remotely and speak to people who call in and are grieving or who may be seeking support for someone else who is bereaved.
The next stage of the project was the cyber security element, with SentinelOne installed through Pentesec. Spencer noted “To ensure clinical services were unaffected, it was particularly important to us that the NHS applications on the system would work properly without any interruption”. A phased roll out was undertaken to address this, initially to machines with the relevant new software within a test phase. Only when all parties were satisfied that the roll out was operating as expected and reporting correctly, did phase two begin. This was then rolled out to a small number of machines, followed by project meetings to ensure there was timely and regular dialogue. The SOC team now proactively monitor and detect potential threats, advising St Clare on recommendations to mitigate them, meaning St Clare’s cyber defence armoury has gained far more than Anti-Virus software and a firewall.
Single Solution Partner. We have a relationship based on high levels of trust, leading to increased innovation and collaboration and a sense of shared benefits.
A single pane of glass. Makes management of the environment less complicated and more efficient.
PSTN Switch Off future proof. Moving to a cloud-based product has resulted in reduced spend but a significantly enhanced performance. It’s a win-win on every level.
Proactive threat detection. The solution goes beyond what St Clare felt they could afford. They have more than just the software – they have experts assessing threats, investigating them and recommending actions. The SOC has filled in the gaps within the internal IT team, delivering a greater ability to mitigate risk and providing reassurance that everything is taken care of with the right experts in place.
Maximum security. St Clare now benefit from the strongest product, gaining the significant benefits of a market leading SOC team with a level of expertise that would have been otherwise unattainable. Part of the solution is a charitable donation from Charterhouse where professional services fees have been heavily discounted.
Patient data is secure. Reassurance that patient data is more secure than ever before, thanks to new cyber capabilities, which mean regulatory requirements are met.
Full resilience across the board. Both wired and wireless infrastructure can now weather disruptions to their critical processes and the IT systems which support them.
Responsive, trusted relationship. From the account management team to the engineers the Charterhouse experience has been fantastic, working through challenges, providing solutions, and maintaining clear lines of communication.
In addition to the ongoing charitable support from Charterhouse, part of the generosity around the professional services associated with the cyber solution is recognised as a charitable donation to St Clare. This helps St Clare focus their energies on the work they do to support their patients.
“Thanks to Charterhouse, St Clare’s communications technology is working much harder for us and delivering beyond our expectations. We now have total confidence in the resilience of our wired and wireless infrastructure, as well as peace of mind that our cyber security is safe in the hands of experts we’d otherwise not be able to afford. We’re delighted with what our partnership with Charterhouse has enabled us to achieve, increasing our reach and helping us continue to make a difference within our community. The project was delivered with ‘uninterrupted service’ in mind – due to the sensitive nature of the support we provide our patients – and rolled out in a phased manner which gave us confidence that risks were mitigated” Spencer McBlain – IT Manager, St Clare Hospice