Spotlight On: Jill Littlewood, Clinical Manager for the Inpatient Unit at #wirralhospice – #nurse #palliativecare #wirral #hospicehero

 Jill DrinksFor Jill Littlewood, everything is about putting the patients of  Wirral Hospice St John’s at the heart of all that we do. “The care we give has been greatly enhanced by the development of the services we provide, both here and out in our Wirral communities. The various hospice teams that support our patients and their families, get together regularly to agree the best ways in which we can help our patients live as full a life as possible.”

Jill joined the hospice in January 2014, and as Inpatients Ward Manager, she has a very busy job that she finds wholly fulfilling. This fact shines out of every sentence she utters. “I love the passionate commitment of the people I work with; the staff and the volunteers. We all care about the wellbeing of our patients and their families and, professionally, I couldn’t work with a better team. Sometimes, the work is challenging but we help each other, as we do with our patients, over a cup of tea and a chat. Sometimes I need to look after the team and sometimes they have to look after me.”

After serving 40 years in the health services, 37 as a nurse, Yorkshire born Jill has seen it all. So, how did she choose her profession? “At 16 I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My dad worked as a catering manager at Huddersfield Hospital and he got me a job in the kitchen! I’ve always loved cooking – people at the hospice will tell you about my baking – so I went to college to do a catering course. I really enjoyed it but as I was also working in the hospital I realised that I could do more to help if I became a nurse. I studied at Huddersfield Hospital and lived there, at the nurse’s home, until I gained my qualifications”.

Since then a full and varied career has seen Jill honing her expertise to the greater benefit of our patients. Having worked across the whole spectrum of nursing; in operating theatres, in ICUs, gynaecology and, with 22 years as a district nurse in Chester, Jill now pursues her ultimate vocation, palliative care.

“Wirral Hospice St John’s is the best place in the world for us to support people, often at the most challenging time for them and their families. Our job is to get people who may be experiencing uncontrolled pain or severe discomfort, as a result of their illnesses, back to their own home environment. Patients come to us at the Inpatient Ward when referred to the hospice by a hospital doctor, GP, district nurse or other healthcare professional.

People are generally admitted for, up to, an initial two week period, depending on the progress of their individual illnesses. Patient’s needs; physical, psychological and spiritual, are all catered for so that they can look forward to a return to familiar surroundings as soon as we can stabilise their condition.

Once people return home they can also receive our Hospice at Home service which, as well as providing a regular friendly and familiar face from the hospice, supports partners, family members (often 24-hr carers) and other carers to take a little time of their own to tend to their own wellbeing. So while Hospice at Home is with the patient, their carers might be shopping or be able to take a short break for a couple of hours.

In her ‘real’ life Jill is happily married to Steve (a retired Psychiatrist) whom she met in her home county of Yorkshire some 40 years ago. She has two children, Rachel and Anthony, who have both blessed her in the last couple of years with her precious granddaughters. Oldest granddaughter, Olivia, is two (she features a little later in this story), while, only 10 weeks ago, Anthony’s partner, Felicity, gave birth to Daisy, granddaughter number two.

Olivia has already written her place in hospice history by introducing ‘Granny’ Jill to internet viral sensation the Baby Shark challenge. Jill was so taken by the fun they were both having learning the moves to the song that she shared with colleagues, Infection Control nurse, Chantelle Hardman, Nicola D’Amelio, Clinical Governance Manager and Ward Sister, Clare Norman.

It was deemed a fun challenge to get more of the hospice team involved in. So Pied Piper, Jill, gathered up a growing number of willing participants and within an hour or so the music was played, the Baby Shark challenge was met and the video recording shared on the hospice’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. It has reached more than half a million people to date, featured on BBC Breakfast, Lorraine and other media channels, including The Daily Mirror’s Facebook page.

Another of Jill’s passions is for singing! A proud member of the Chester Operatic Society, she puts her ability to great use for the hospice in early December, helping our Carol Choir to hit the right notes to add to the ambience of our annual Light up a Life switch on service.

So, sing it from the rooftops, Jill’s legacy at the hospice is secure. After 39 years as a nurse, Jill tells us that she takes most pleasure in helping younger  – her words – staff and nurses to develop into their roles at Wirral Hospice St John’s. She sees her role as helping those people to “get skilled up, to do well and to get on”.

What is certain is that the future is bright for Wirral Hospice St John’s if those younger people listen to, and learn from, the ever enthusiastic, Jill Littlewood.

Author: Billy Howard

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Jill Littlewood talks about our Inpatient Ward and the new build #familiesmatter

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Jill Littlewood joined Wirral Hospice St John’s as our Inpatient Services Manager in January 2014. Prior to that, she worked for 22 years in the Chester community as a district nurse. Her special interest has always been palliative care.

Palliative care, which is the care of people suffering from an illness that cannot be cured, is an area undergoing huge change. Wirral Hospice is at the forefront of current thinking; patients are helped to manage their conditions so that they are comfortable and have the best quality of life possible.

Patients referred to its Inpatient Ward might only stay a few days whilst their condition stabilises and then they return to the comfort of their own home, with support being given to them and their carers through Hospice at Home care.

“From the moment people come into the Hospice as inpatients, we are planning for their discharge and how they can be helped and supported at home. It is a much more positive view than it used to be. Patients may be admitted in crisis, but then, with the benefit of the highly skilled and specialised care and support we offer, they will often stabilise and be able to return to their own home, which is of course where most people yearn to be.”

Jill considers the construction of the new Hospice building as crucial to the development of this wraparound care.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Wirral Hospice Sharks, making a splash for the care and support of our patients and their loved ones #wirralhospice #hospiceheroes #nurses #wirral #hospiceheroes #fundraising #swimming #deemile

SharksSometime last summer, inspired by our joint Inpatients ward manager, Jill Littlewood’s, grandaughter, and the young son of our infection control nurse Chantelle Hardman , we thought it would be a bit of fun to gather a team of doctors, nurses, other staff, volunteers and an ambassador of Wirral Hospice St John’s (our president, His Honour, John Roberts,) to take on the Baby Shark Challenge.

It was a mini-phenomenon! Wirral Hospice St John’s was featured on BBC Breakfast, on Lorraine, a host of other news media sites and had over 500,000 views via FaceBook. We basked in the glow of welcome publicity and enjoyed the many positive comments and affirmations we subsequently received.

It was a bit of fun and underlined our everyday humanity at the hospice. Such one-time things are to be cherished and then ultimately fade to become a, distant, fond memory. We all, as life dictates, move onto the next important event or incident.

Oh No, not at Wirral Hospice St John’s. What is it about that song that has remained in the psyché of many of those who took part? Can’t we just leave it as that? One moment in time, (apologies to Whitney Houston) and just move on?

sharks 5No, no, no, no, NO! The aforementioned Jill Littlewood (pictured here, on dry land, with our famous Inpatients drinks trolley) just would not let it go. Searching for an event to raise some funds for the hospice, and in discussion with our former head of clinical services, Judi, Jill just had to go and suggest something water related! A swim! Because, and here’s the justification, we’re all Hospice Sharks now!

Seriously? Oh yes and, furthermore, no half measures! Jill suggested that she, Judi, and Anita Gillen, a nurse, known for taking part in runs and swims from our Wellbeing Centre, needed to sign up for a swimming event she knew of, The Dee Mile, which has become a summer fixture in the fair city of Chester.

A worthwhile and challenging trial and, all to raise funds for our beloved hospice. Well, good luck team, I thought. 

However, when fundraising officer, Sarah Burgess, was also inspired to do it I had not accounted for her powers of persuasion because, on a quiet January afternoon, I let her talk me into it. Doh!

Steadily the number of mugs, sorry willing participants, grew and, with what seemed like a far-off date, Saturday the 10th August, in the diary, fourteen ladies, plus me, were signed up.

Jill, Anita, Tracey Meyers, Diane Owens, all nurses here, Sybil Leeman, a volunteer in our  Wellbeing Centre, with Sarah and myself from the hospice. Judi, now a life-long friend of the hospice ( in a new role in Manchester), Jill’s daughter Rachel, daughter in law Felicity, friend Claire (a community nurse), friend Elaine (a MacMillan nurse) alongside Anita’s friends, Jackie and mother and daughter, Trish and Abby, made up the final shark ‘pool’.

It was still January when training began and everyone chose to start in a swimming pool close to where they lived. Most had access to a twenty five metre (25m) pool and the arm swishing and leg kicking began. With a little research we established that The Dee Mile was actually The Dee 2 Kilometres! A mere trifle of EIGHTY lengths of the 25m we were tackling! (What had I done?)

Reports came back. Some were smashing 40/50 lengths breaststroke, which in effect was halfway there! Jill started off being able to comfortably do 15 lengths and was gradually building up. I was aiming to complete it doing front crawl so was slightly concerned that my peak 10 lengths (and stop for a 10 minute sauna) the first few times I went, wouldn’t cut it.

Sharks 2A couple of months went by and we began to get into a routine. The worst thing about swimming in a 25m pool is how boring it can be. Up and down, up and down, “Have I done 16 so far, or 18?” (14 probably!) Soon, we were all researching some real ‘Open Water’ swimming to prepare for the 10th August.

Some of the nurses and friends had had a swim practice in the Lake District at Windermere. They were now fully fledged ‘open water’ advocates. By mid-June most of us began getting into various lakes to get acclimatised for the challenge ahead.

Jill Littlewood was notably prolific. She often joined a number of us at Manley Mere, a freshwater lake between Helsby and Chester. However she was regularly choosing to jump into the nearest lake or any stretch of water that was close by!  Anglesey, Alderford, Windermere, Colwyn Bay, Hatchmere, her reports on FaceBook were coming through thick and fast. She’s not a shark, she’s a mermaid!

Sharks 6Along with her friend, Claire, she also tackled the Cholmondely Castle Mile at Deer Park Mere Lake and then The Snowman Swim at Llynau Mymbaur, Snowdonia. WOW! Jill was the cheerleader-in-chief and the inspiration for the rest of us (even the accomplished athletes).

For my part, and for some reason, my first open water swim at Manley Mere coincided with a freak drop in temperature in June. A (very) cool 12.8C for my first outing in open water didn’t fill me with confidence. Sarah was alongside me and, as far as I could tell, she was finding it a breeze gliding through the water easily and confidently (Ohcheers Sarah!)

At the first bend (after only 125 metres) I took in a mouthful of freshwater lake and, at first, couldn’t cough it out and catch my breath. I was spluttering a bit, I began to think, I might just give these guys £100 to get out of this?

Anyhow, after a few more sessions, in markedly warmer water as July progressed, we all started to enjoy it more. We set up a Just Giving page under ‘Wirral Hospice Sharks’ and began to let friends and family know, in earnest, that we were taking on the challenge.

Social media recorded regular updates, while the hospice supported us by sharing our adventures in Manley Mere (and Jill’s in the next stretch, any stretch, of water she happened to pass. Is she actually a mermaid?)

When the day came, Saturday 10th August, it was blowing a bit of a gale. As we all arrived at 3pm (for a 5.30pm start), the river was definitely moving in the wrong direction. If we’d been swimming against that tide we’d have finished on Monday!

Plenty of encouraging words for each other, and from our family and friends, buoyed (!) us for the challenge ahead.

The 1500m walk to the start was something I don’t think we’d factored in and, every step of the way made us realise, the finish line was getting further away.sharks 8

The good news was that the tide had turned and it was going to help us towards the finishing line. With a loud “we’ve got this Sharks” from Jill, SPLASH, we were in.

An acceptable 18C and swimming downstream, this wasn’t going to be too bad. I started off with a, fairly steady, front crawl rhythm. Anita Gillen had already started as she was with a ‘no wet suit’ group  including Elaine Charles (proper swimmers), a little earlier.

I was thinking this is OK as I swam about 200 metres and then was a bit puzzled. Why was there a crowd of people in white swimming hats gathered in the water slightly ahead?

WE HADN’T STARTED YET! Aaarrgghh – why didn’t I take it easy to here? Some minutes later, with a blast of the air horn, we set off for real.

I felt like I ‘doggy paddled’ most of the way down an inside track. I know the large ‘shoal’ of hospice sharks had decided to stay together to keep each other company and I could hear them for most of the way. They were really enjoying the swim. 

Is that Baby Shark they’re all singing? Bonkers! 

Sarah B’s easy style had her chopping through the river and she even broke into an impressive front crawl for the last few hundred metres. I was, literally, dragged out by a nice lady who was volunteering at the finish line, and very soon the Baby Shark Singers were also in, and lining up for a photo at the finish.Sharks 3

Within minutes of the finish Jill was asking the question, “So what next?” (she’s definitely a mermaid). By Monday, Sarah had mooted the idea for everyone to sign up for a night time swim, in September.

I think I’m washing my hair that evening, was my considered response!

As for The Dee Mile it had been a great journey, a great few months and a great day. Everybody felt like they’d achieved something special and, most importantly, the Just Giving donations had soared.

At the last count they were over £3,300 with more pledged offline which will all go towards the hospice’s special care and support services. Now that is, Sharktastic!

Author: Billy Howard

(If you’d like to take on a challenge for Wirral Hospice St John’s, maybe The Dee Mile in 2020, have a look at our website, http://www.wirralhospice.org/getactive and/or please get in touch with our fundraising team on 0151-343-0778 who will be delighted to help)

 

Spotlight on Susan Seed: A hospice supporter since day one #hospicehero #wirralhospice #caring #donating #fun #community #thankyou

Sue A“Do you think you can do anything with this handbag, dear?” Sue Seed pops into Wirral Hospice St John’s fundraising with a brand new bag she’s been gifted. “It’s no good to me you see, and I thought you could maybe offer it in a raffle or in the charity shops?” Sue often brings in items we can use and, after being around the hospice, ever since it opened, we’re always pleased to see her.

You’ll also catch her in our Hub Café, usually on a Tuesday and Thursday, enjoying a coffee and a catch-up with the staff and whoever else is around for a friendly chat. (Sue is pictured here on the left with Thelma and Carol from The Hub). Here’s a handy tip; Say hello to Sue and you’ll learn about all kinds of subjects, from TV dramas to Strictly Come Dancing, ham radio to Liverpool FC!

Sue is 84 years young now and has retired from volunteering. Her and husband, Alec, lived in Bebington when he retired from Shell in 1982. After spending some time enjoying their retirement together, Alec was also looking to ‘put something back.’ They began volunteering at the newly opened St John’s Hospice from the very beginning. Sue recalls our first matron, Matron Jones, as a lady brimming with hospice values

For more than 20 years Sue and Alec volunteered together. (Sue had also been volunteering at Clatterbridge Hospital for the WRVS in their tea bar). At Wirral Hospice St John’s they provided essential general support duties in our Inpatients ward  and they became immersed in all the events and occasions the hospice, and its supporters, put on for our whole Wirral community.

Sue and PatriciaSue, maiden name Currie, is from London. Her father had fought and survived World War 1 but sadly died in 1937 when Sue, and her twin sister, Patricia (Sue, aged 19, is on the left of their picture here) were only three years old. Sue also remembers them hiding under the stairs during World War 2 when the family lived in East Sheen, in south west London.

She reminisces about watching the air dog-fights between fighter aircraft and searching for shrapnel after the battles had ended. In the summer holidays the whole school would relocate to Yorkshire.

Between the ages of 18 and 21, Sue worked in the City of London. After the war, her mother moved around Greater London quite a bit until settling in Potters Bar when Sue was around 21. She then worked as a shorthand typist for the Diocesan Office of St Alban’s until she was twenty three.Sue Alec

At this time Sue visited a friend of her mum’s, ‘Auntie Jess’, (Mrs Seed), who lived in Wirral. She’d been unaware that Auntie Jess had a son, Alec, it was love at first sight!

They were married the very next year at Christ Church in Potters Bar. Over forty six years they built a life together, travelling around Europe. They loved the Canaries (*where the picture on the right was taken) and owned timeshare there. They also spent a lot of time at their caravan in the picturesque Shropshire retreat of Ellesmere.

Alec had been in the RAF during the war, working ground crew servicing Spitfires and Lancaster Bombers. Here he gained a lifelong interest in amateur radio, which Sue also enjoyed. He loved airshows and shared his love for Liverpool FC with Sue.

In 1992 they discovered that Alec had a heart condition. He lived as full a life as possible still, for another 12 years. He sadly died, in 2004.

Sue speaks to twin sister, Patricia, every night on the phone! Patricia lives in Norwich with her husband Tony, who is now 87, and Sue has three nephews and a niece all of whom she adores. Jenny, David, Timothy and Simon, have also given Sue between them, seven grand nieces and nephews. “They’re all brilliant.” she says, beaming!

Sue Seed

As well as her generous offers of material things for the hospice to raffle or sell, Sue collects some monthly membership fees for the hospice lottery for us. She also makes kind monetary donations to the various ‘giving’ initiatives we promote which help us to keep providing our essential nursing and care services at the hospice.

Sue has a distinctive ‘southern’ accent which has a charming lilt. Look out for her in the Hub Café and say hello! I promise you, it will be time well spent!ellesmere 2(Sue’s favourite view of Ellesmere – picture courtesy of shropshire-guide.co.uk)

Author: Billy Howard

Spotlight On: Liz Munro a fundraising volunteer, ‘par excellence’ #hospicehero #wirralhospice #caring #fundraising #fun # volunteer #thankyou

liz

Wirral Hospice St John’s fundraising office is a hive of activity. There are constant phone-calls and a steady flow of people popping in to make donations, to join various events, sign up for the hospice lottery and drop off prizes (including contributions to our famous in-patients ward’s drinks trolley!) Very often, people from other teams and/or hospice trustees and ambassadors meet in fundraising to share ideas and news from around the place.

Our fundraisers are busy bees. They’re dedicated, driven and conscientious, but, they’ll all tell you, they wouldn’t be anywhere near as efficient without the help of a supportive and highly motivated group of volunteers, each bringing their unique personality, skill and experience to the team.

Today we focus on ‘one of the quiet ones’ (or so you would think) the invaluable and gently effective, Liz Munro.

Liz doesn’t make any fuss in the office. She’s there every Tuesday from 10am to 4pm, handling calls politely while, often simultaneously, packing envelopes, collating information, accepting card payments and sorting through all kinds of fundraising paraphernalia.

When she finds a minute she’ll also get all the teas and coffees in! This unassuming lady is an absolute diamond, the kind of person who, if you had a need she’d help you as much as she could.

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When I ask her to tell us how she got involved with the hospice and some of her ‘real life’, she’s typically humble: “I’ll tell you everything about me in about 5 minutes and you’ll have nothing to use.” I think she genuinely means it, but there’s plenty worth sharing.

Born and raised in Wirral, Liz attended Upton Hall FCJ before leaving for Durham University where she graduated in PE. Her first job was teaching PE at Helsby Grammar School before moving to Crewe Grammar where she spent a further 11 years. Liz is definitely a sports enthusiast – more about that later!

Her career continued in learning with the education advisory service and, based in nearby Ellesmere Port, Liz became an ‘Education Visitor’. This made learning accessible to people of all ages who might not have necessarily thrived in mainstream education. Liz’s commitment to community and public service has been a mainstay of her life.

Liz finally retired in 2004 when the primary school she was working at, Stanlaw Abbey, merged with another to become Oaks Primary School.

By that time she had already been volunteering at Wirral Hospice St John’s for 3 years. You see, her husband and the love of her life, Keith, had passed away at the hospice in 2001.

Liz tells me a little bit more about Keith. He was from Tain in Scotland (where they make the famous Glenmorangie Whisky). In the RAF he developed a love of languages and went on to study German and Russian at Edinburgh University. He was lecturing in Russian at the old Liverpool Polytechnic (now Liverpool John Moores University) when they met.

Liz positively beams when talking about her children and grandchildren. Keith and Liz were married in 1978 and Keith brought two children, Andrew and Jamie, to the relationship. Liz describes them, now in their 50’s, as just delightful! They have given Liz four of her, soon to be six, grandchildren. Soon to be?  Yes, Liz and Keith also have another daughter, Annie, who is mum of grandaughter, Ella, and now grandchild number six is due in March. Wonderful!

When speaking about Keith’s time in the hospice, he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, Liz remembers, “He was made to feel so comfortable. The staff and volunteers showed great courtesy, patience and were so attentive to his needs. Their kindness was priceless.”

She recalls a nice story when Keith wanted some peaches for his dessert, “Del Monté, mind” he requested. Naturally, the Man from Del Monté said, YES!

Keith died here in July 2001 at the age of 64.

Later that year, Liz began to volunteer for the hospice. Her first campaign contribution was for Light Up a Life in 2001. Liz would take home the hundreds of remembrance Christmas cards to be sorted and packed for posting to all the people who had made their invaluable donations.

In the next year Liz, with family, friends and neighbours hosted a ‘Titanic’ themed event to raise funds for the hospice. Guests were asked to dress for ‘steerage’ or ‘first class’. A gangplank was built up to the front of the house, adorned with lifebelts, a sailboat positioned next to an iceberg (a sheet draped over Annie’s old swing) in the garden.  A string quartet, featuring Annie, played until fireworks signified the ship going down at midnight. “People still talk about the day, it was Keith’s wish to hold it and we managed to raise a nice sum for the hospice.”

liz 7

Sporty Liz missed her games of tennis with Keith and, late in 2002, a friend encouraged her to have a go at golf. After just a few lessons she was hooked, “like some of my shots”, Liz laughs. Soon afterwards she joined, what was then, Wirral Ladies Golf Club in Oxton.

It wouldn’t be long before Liz became embroiled in life at the golf club. So much so that, by 2011, she was named the club’s Captain . What an honour! However, Liz broke many conventions in 2012 by being chosen for a further year. Historically, Liz was the very last ‘female only’ Captain of the golf club as, to comply with equality law, the club has had both a female and male captain since 2012.

Liz chose Wirral Hospice St John’s as her club’s charity of the year in both years as captain. The members insisting that she would have no problem gaining their support, “Wirral Hospice touches everyone here”, they told her. Again, very welcome funds were raised towards helping the hospice maintain our specialist palliative care and support services.

In 2018, Liz and her golf buddy, Janet Mills, made a personal donation to have the hospice featured on a sign on the 6th hole of their newly renamed Wirral Golf Club. 

Thank You, again and again and again. Liz, you are a Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteer, ‘par excellence.’liz 2

Author: Billy Howard

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