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

 Jill DrinksFor Jill, 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, our Jill Littlewood.

Author: Billy Howard

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It’s Occupational Therapy Week #OTWEEK2017 we’d like you to meet Katy Firth, our very own Occupational Therapist!

crop katie firthTell us a little bit about yourself
I have recently moved to the North West from Southampton but I am originally from Whitley Bay on the North East coast and I did my training at York St John University.

Before moving here I worked in University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. I worked there for five years and I did a number of rotations including acute oncology and it was there where I found my passion for oncology and palliative care. Prior to moving I worked within acute oncology as a static member of staff for just over a year and whilst I was there I completed a master’s module in palliative care.

My parents still live in the North East but most of the rest of my family live in Lancashire and my twin sister lives in Manchester so being back closer to family inspired mine and my husband’s move to the North West. I am an active person who enjoys outdoor activities and I am active member of the scout association.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
I have only been at the hospice for two months and I have really appreciated how welcoming and friendly everyone has been.

What are your Hospice Highlights?

  • The warm and approachable staff and volunteers
  • The green space around the hospice that helps create a calm environment
  • To have joined such a friendly and supportive team.


What does hospice care mean to you?
To me, hospice care means working together as a multidisciplinary team to provide holistic person centred care to people who have life limiting illnesses, to empower them to live life as independently and fully as possible. As an occupational therapist my role is to support people to live not just exist. By enabling patients to maintain their independence and engagement in everyday and meaningful activities, whilst supporting them to cope with their changing condition, helping them understand and adapt to the changes that they are experiencing in everyday life.

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One of our #volunteers, John, tells us why the hospice is so special ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

20170707_094955.jpgJohn Sutcliffe is a volunteer at Wirral Hospice where I support Day Therapy patients and work as a gardener. I was married for nearly 50 years and we have three children; two sons and one daughter, and six grandchildren. All live locally – I’m chief babysitter!

I was brought up in Wallasey and worked away at sea but when I returned I met Maria, a nurse from Upton who worked at Clatterbridge. We were married in 1969. Maria worked as a nurse for 40 years and I worked for Levers and Group 4 security. Maria and I had a common interest in travel and shared many happy holidays together. My main interests now are gardening and supporting Liverpool football Club.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
Approximately 15 years ago Maria was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which was when I first became involved in the hospice. Whilst Maria was coming to the hospice, I was involved in the Carers group and the Patients and Carers feedback group. Since losing Maria in 2015 I have continued to support the feedback group and have attended the Bereavement Support group and now, volunteering as a gardener and supporter of patients in the Day Therapy Unit.

During Maria’s time as a patient she was fortunate to experience all the services provided – initially as an outpatient, then attending the weekly Day Therapy sessions, then support back at home via the Hospice at Home service and also as an Inpatient. Throughout this time we saw the hospice grow and change through a number of building developments which created “The Hub” café, the new Outpatients department and the multi-disciplinary / patient and family support team areas. During the building works the services we attended were relocated but this did not compromise the amazing all round care we received from the wonderful doctors, clinical team and volunteers.

Being a member of the Patient Involvement group has been a great way for me to give back to the hospice: I was consulted on processes, leaflets and services and I also carried out a Healthcare inspection with external governing bodies which was a chance to share our positive experience of hospice care.

My volunteer role with Day Therapy patients is great as I am gardening with them – this is proving to be a wonderful alternative therapy, and even better we are now producing potatoes, tomatoes, onions and more that we can then pass to the kitchen to use which is really satisfying!

What are your Hospice Highlights?
The main highlight for me has to be the hospice staff – nothing is too much effort. Throughout all the services we experienced, the staff would go above and beyond to support not just Maria but myself and all the family.

When Maria attended her weekly Day Therapy session, I was invited to stay and attend a Carers group which was specifically for patients’ partners and/or their careers. The team who ran this provided wonderful opportunity for support where, over coffee and cake you could ask questions, talk through day to day issues and share experiences of life as a career with others going through the same thing, which helped to prepare you for the journey ahead.

The bereavement support was also a highlight for me – After some initial one to one counselling I joined a bereavement support group where we met every two weeks for about two years. These people became friends for life as we still meet up now and have even been away on holiday together!

Now a big highlight for me is to work with patients in Day Therapy who I know will benefit from their time here because they are going to be made to feel well. I will never forget what one of the consultants said to me when Maria was a Day Therapy patient “You don’t come here to die, you come here for us to control your medication, control your pain and get you home”.

What does hospice care mean to you?
For me the hospice care means the personal touch, where the staff have time to listen not just to the patient, but to the partners, the children and the extended family who are just as important to them. The wonderful team of medics and nurses have the skills to support families when they really do need it.

I couldn’t put a rating on Wirral Hospice – if I did it would be a million stars! You’re made to feel like family and it starts to feel like home.

I can never repay the team at Wirral hospice for what they did but volunteering is my way of giving something back.

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One of our patients, Tommy, tells us how he’s gone from repairing 40tonne wagons to #woodcarving ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

Tommy Collins 1Tommy Collins was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and an operation to remove it in 2001. 17 years down the line and Tommy has been receiving chemotherapy. His specialist referred Tommy to Wirral Hospice St John’s.

“The only word that stayed with me during our conversation was ‘hospice’. I assumed you walked into a hospice to get fitted with a wooden overcoat to be carried out in so I was not looking forward to my first visit!

I arrive with a closed mind and was trying to come to terms with why I was here. The staff and volunteers greeted us with a smile and a cup of tea, and I was introduced to other patients. I had an appointment with one of the consultants, which was followed by a lunch (soup and a sandwich). Back to the Day Therapy room for some relaxation exercises then time for home.

I had much to think about but was not sure the hospice was for me; it was not what I’d imagined. I decide to give it another go next week though just to see.

Having returned the following week, things became clearer and I received good advice and information about health, social and financial matters and details of care support teams I could access for help. I was also given help in managing fatigue and breathlessness with COPD and met with a counsellor, which proved very helpful.

I was introduced to the craft table and given a lump of clay. I used to repair 40 tonne wagons on the side of motorways, so clay stood no chance and I made two mushrooms successfully!

I soon got around to making a nuisance of myself but I think I have helped to brighten the day for others a little. I have come to really look forward to my visits!

As well as clay mushrooms, I’ve also started making lots of wooden pieces: a wishing well, garden chair, tables, cake stands, planters and lots of bowls. I have really enjoyed this. It’s a good distraction for me and I find working with natural materials very therapeutic.

I would advise anyone to give the hospice a go if they are unsure but have been referred to it. Please don’t let the word ‘hospice’ put you off – they have been so supportive, not only to me but to my wife too. We have been given a refreshed perspective on my illness and everyone has been so supportive, I can’t thank the hospice team enough.”

Tommy’s wooden pieces will shortly be for sale in our Facebook shop – watch this space!

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Huge congratulations to Brenda, who has been awarded a #Cheshire #WomanoftheYear #LifetimeAchievement #Award for her professional achievements! Brenda has worked at #wirralhospice for more than 34 years! #hospicehero #thankyou #congratulations #wirral

brenda taylor 1Huge congratulations to Brenda, who has been awarded a Cheshire Woman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for her professional achievements! What a lovely way for her to be thanked for her many years of dedicated service to the Wirral community.

You can read more below about how Brenda started her career with Wirral Hospice St John’s almost 34 years ago!

Original posted edited 19.04.18

For Hospice Care Week, we thought it would be nice to share some stories of some of our staff, volunteers, patients and special friends. We’re delighted to share more about this lovely lady, Brenda Taylor, who has been part of Wirral Hospice St John’s for more than 34 years!

Meet Brenda Taylor:
I have lived on the Wirral all my life – I was brought up in Bromborough, went to school in Bromborough and I live in Eastham so I have always been local. I am married with two grown-up children; my son is in the Royal Navy and lives in Plymouth and my daughter and granddaughter live locally.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
A long, long time! I was 29 years old when I started at Wirral Hospice and I can tell you that it was the first of March 1984, in the morning, and it was a Thursday!!

I was the first and only Auxiliary Nurse to work a day shift on the Ward and this was my role for approximately 24 years. Also during this time I worked in the Outpatients clinic one day a week. For the last ten years I have worked across the Outpatients and Day Therapy units, and more recently co-ordinating Outpatients clinics, which is now my main role.

What are your Hospice Highlights?
Seeing the hospice grow from a small, single building (previously the old Clatterbridge children’s ward) to a larger purpose built Inpatient Ward, and then developing further to provide an Outpatient department has been a real highlight and I’m proud to have been a part of this growth.

Also for me personally, to support and assist patients who have been on such a long journey really is an honour, and a privilege to be able to assist patients and their families.

What does hospice care mean to you?
Treating people with compassion and dignity on a daily basis is big part of the hospice message and I see evidence of this every day here at Wirral Hospice St John’s. The relationships I have built with fellow staff and volunteers that I work alongside make them feel almost like family. After more than 33 years, and much development, Wirral Hospice often feels like my second home!

My wish for the future is that Wirral Hospice will continue to move forward providing even more quality care for the people of Wirral.

To find out more about our hospice care, please visit http://www.wirralhospice.org or call 0151 334 2778.

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