“Kind, considerate, caring, and compassionate” are some of the words colleagues, volunteers and patients have used when I ask them to describe our senior nurse, Jane Slack. She is currently acting Deputy Clinical Services Manager (covering maternity leave) in our Wellbeing Centre. She’s been at Wirral Hospice St John’s for 11 years and, while other terms, “reliable, passionate, fun, engaging” are also descriptions I hear of Jane, we can now add another one, ‘brainy.’
We already knew that Jane was intelligent and knowledgeable but she’s just proved it by gaining her BN (Hons) degree in palliative and end of life care from the University of Chester. The degree represents a significant academic qualification to back up Jane’s experience and expertise.
Passing modules in symptom management, general palliative care, loss and grief, advanced communication, leadership and, of course, evidence based practice have enhanced Jane’s performance and expanded on her natural ability.
So, what exactly motivates our Jane Slack?
“Well” she explains, “I was brought up in a home where the door was always open. My mum and dad are caring people. They’re always ready for a kind word over a cup of tea, some sage advice, they were actually my guiding lights“.
You see, Jane’s dad, Richard, is a retired vicar and his mission in life, together with Jane’s mum, Barbara, because of their faith, to show God’s love to people.
Jane was brought up in Malaysia, where her mum and dad were missionaries for the Anglican Communion. Richard trained new priests and workers for the church and, in fact, the current Archbishop of SE Asia was one of his students.
When the family returned to the UK it was no surprise that Jane’s first degree was in RE. She studied at St Martin’s in Lancaster, now part of the University of Cumbria. Interestingly St Martin of Tours, whom the college was named after was a Roman soldier who tore his cloak in two to clothe a beggar, renouncing the life of a soldier to take on a life of caring!
It was a natural progression for Jane to get involved in a career in nursing. She started her hospice journey at the renowned St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds on the in-patients ward and had now realised her vocation. Jane loved working on the ward and learned of the strength of families and other carers when they might be facing some of the most challenging times with loved ones.
To our great benefit, marriage, to Kevin, a barrister based in chambers in Liverpool, meant that Jane was to make the move across the Pennines to find a home in our appealing Wirral peninsular and also a job as a Band 5 nurse, bringing her skills and expertise to our Inpatient ward.
“I really love my job. I love how the hospice, specifically, can care for people really well. By sharing experience and also studying I know that we bring the most up to date care that we can possibly give. I never stop admiring how much people’s relatives love and support their loved ones. This has helped me gain an appreciation and understanding what everyone is going through.”
And here we are 11 years later. Jane is a Band 6 nurse. She credits the Wolfson Foundation (a philanthropic organisation which, in association with Hospice UK, offers funding for education in healthcare) for helping with a bursary grant for her nursing degree. She tells me her wonderful Mother-in Law, Judith, has also been very supportive throughout.
Here’s Jane on the right of the picture (we’re going to feature ‘our’ Ashley too (on the left), in a couple of weeks, after she gained her foundation degree in health and social care).
In Jane’s other ‘real life’ she and Kevin are inspiring their boys, Henry, 8, and Barnaby, 4, to lead as good a life as possible. In ‘our’ Jane’s hands we’re sure that a bright future lies ahead for two, positively enlightened, young men.