St Joseph’s Hospice subsidiary Five Sisters® Managed Services works in partnership with Saint Francis Hospice, Romford, to deliver a managed catering service.

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Project and outcomes


Project overview

St Joseph’s Hospice recognises the long-term need to develop a more predictable and sustainable stream of income, with Enterprise forming one of the key pillars of its five-year strategic plan. The Hospice had already renovated and repurposed 20% of its site to be let out on five-year leases to commercial partners, and was looking for new opportunities.

Alongside this, the development of the integrated care system (ICS) brought a clear focus on collaboration and integrated working.

St Joseph’s had recently brought their catering service in-house, rather than using an external catering company. They already had a good relationship with Saint Francis Hospice in Romford, who were also considering changing their catering provider.

This proved to be the ideal opportunity for St Joseph’s commercial subsidiary – Five Sisters® Managed Services – to work in partnership with another hospice, providing them with a managed catering service and receiving a sustainable source of income in return.


Five Sisters has worked closely with Saint Francis to develop and manage their catering service. 

Both hospices have benefited from the partnership. Collectively, they have increased buying power which reduces the cost of purchases for both parties. Five Sisters receives a management fee, and Saint Francis Hospice benefits from a share of profits.

Catering staff have benefited from expert training and mentoring, resulting in a better quality service, and an improved food hygiene rating.

The managed catering service has not required a substantial investment in staff or other resources. This means that Five Sisters has seen a profit almost immediately.

Most importantly, the partnership has provided a model that can be translated to new contracts with hospices and other organisations.

Facilitators, challenges and advice


Key facilitators

The partnership approach is key to the Five Sisters model. Their team worked closely with Saint Francis Hospice, holding roundtables and polls to inform menu development and to make sure the service meets their needs. They also had a launch event for the new catering service, with tastings.


The staff from Saint Francis’ former catering provider were transferred to Five Sisters under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)). This required support from the Human Resources team.

Tips and advice


Make sure you have a committed and commercially-focused team with the right level of experience.

Be open to doing things differently. Take a step back and look at any assets, knowledge and experience that you could monetise.

Don’t be afraid to look at new opportunities, but walk away if they do not add value or don’t align with your organisation’s values. Make sure that taking on commercial contracts will not have a negative impact on your own organisation – resource or otherwise.

Be prepared to add to your workforce by transferring teams under TUPE – you will need Human Resources support for this. 

Be open to partnerships, but be selective. Only work with organisations where you genuinely believe you can make a difference.

Listen. Your approach must be bespoke to the needs of the organisation.

Keep your eye on the ball – work as partners and get to know each other’s staff. Make sure you have regular on-site and face-to-face meetings. Monitor progress just as you would with any other project. 

Future development


Five Sisters has already worked with some other organisations on a consultancy basis and is in discussion with other potential partners – both hospices and other organisations. These services may be catering, or other functions such as Human Resources, Facilities or IT.