Close to You: Lisa and Clare tell us all about their Carpenters fan mum, Jacqueline Calland, who was with us at Wirral Hospice St John’s in 2019

#compassion #care #hospiceheroes #wirralhospice #family #hospicecare #caring #thankyou

Clare, Jac and Lisa

Late on, on Saturday 7th December last year, Jacqueline Calland, (known as Jac to all her friends) sadly passed away at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

It was the night before the hospice’s annual Light up a Life lights switch-on service and Jac’s daughters, Lisa and Clare, feeling a strong bond for where their mum had been cared for in the previous couple of weeks, decided to attend the service in memory of, and as a tribute to, her.

“Mum loved Christmas, she looked forward to it, in fact everything to do with it, she would watch seasonal films all year round if she could. We’d only said goodbye to her hours earlier but it felt so right to be there among many people with their own memories and, the lights were just beautiful. It helped us all so much knowing her light was shining there.”

Lisa and Clare resolved that they would always support Light up a Life but, like all of us, they couldn’t have foreseen that COVID 19 would lead the hospice to make a really difficult decision, to cancel the switch-on service in 2020*.

However, through the bereavement counselling they have been able to receive, continuing by phone since February with our bereavement services coordinator, Stella, they have volunteered to speak on the virtual lights switch on service the hospice is producing for people to view online from 6pm on Sunday 6th December, about the care and support their mum received and the special place the hospice has in their hearts.

We asked Lisa and Clare to tell us a little bit more about mum, Jac. Their love and complete admiration for how she had conquered her own challenges in early life to become a loving mum and doting Grandma came shining through.

“Mum was born and brought up in Glasgow until aged 12 when the family moved down to Wirral. Her older brother, our uncle Robert, had a nasty accident while working here and needed to be taken care of.

It’s fair to say that mum had a turbulent childhood. Her mum and dad led, what would nowadays be termed, ‘chaotic’ lives and so very often she would have to fend for herself.

We are her four children, Lisa, Clare, Catherine and Andrew and we brought her the 15 grandchildren who became her absolute life. Every day she would say how blessed she was to have them and kept their photo at the foot of her bed all the time she was in the hospice.

She’d worked hard, mainly as a single mum, as a carer, barmaid and childminder. Despite her own adverse circumstances in her early days she still cared for her own mum and dad when they became poorly in later life. Our sister Catherine has autism and mum cared for her too.

Along with Christmas she loved lots of things, songs by The Carpenters, the ‘Keeping Faith’ soundtrack from the popular BBC series, she was fascinated by ‘The Radfords’ family who had their own TV programme about their large family, she also sang in the Pop Vox choir with Lisa and granddaughter Ellee (sponsored by LIPA), enjoyed holidays with her friend Cathy and our families, eating out, cinema and she absolutely ‘rocked’ a bit of leopard print!

We knew her as a proud, glamorous and positive person who wouldn’t be seen without her ‘lippy’ on!

Gardening became a joy for her and the family have recently bought a tree to plant in mum’s honour.

Somebody else told us that she would often go out to the Pound Bakery and spend £20 or so and then go and hand out food and hot drinks to homeless people. When we asked why she hadn’t told us, she just said “Well, why would I tell you or anyone really? It’s just something I like to do.”

Mum was straight talking and everyone loved that about her. When we think back we know we got our independence and ability to cope with life’s problems from her.

In 2004 Mum was diagnosed with neurological dystonia which presented as involuntary muscle spasms in her face, head and neck). Quarterly injections of botox gave some relief but by 2012 the condition had worsened so a full body scan was ordered to check for other causes. After discovering a large cyst an operation to remove it also uncovered lesions associated with peritoneal cancer.

Looking back now, and although it was devastating at the time, it meant with treatment, (Mum combined the professional medical treatments with some alternative therapies), she felt as well as she possibly could for as long as possible.

Complications meant that she had a tumour removed in 2016 and thereafter, having lived with and overcome various challenges, a bilateral stroke while in hospital in September 2019 left her blinded. She was gravely ill.

So it was that, on the recommendation of Dr Richard (Latten, a hospice consultant), she was referred to Wirral Hospice St John’s on 26th November 2019.

The sisters remember that almost as soon as she arrived on the inpatients ward her whole demeanour changed.

“Mum had been anxious and irritated but very quickly she was calm and relaxed. The hospice was a safe, comfortable and relaxing environment where mum’s best interests were the first priority. We felt the communication was first class and ‘hands on’ caring was taken out of our hands so that we could just be with our mum again.”

Since Jac passed away the sisters have described Stella’s counselling as being a rock for them, if anything bringing them even closer as a family, and has helped Clare appreciate even more the work she does as a nurse at Clatterbridge supporting people with eating disorders.

The younger grandchildren have a ‘Grandma Bear’ which they take everywhere with them and they all take comfort in ‘seeing’ their mum and grandma in rainbows and white feathers from time to time.

Our hospice colleague, Jamie-Leigh, had met with Lisa and Clare to hear their story and she recounts that throughout the conversation a little Red Robin was bobbing around the whole time. Lisa and Clare had said that they felt it was their mum keeping an eye on them. 

Reminds me a little of the lyrics from ‘Close to You’ by The Carpenters,

“Why do birds suddenly appear

Every time you are near,

Just like me, they long to be

Close to you…”

She is, Lisa and Clare, she really is!

Author: Billy Howard

NB: *(Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and to keep everyone safe, the hospice has made the difficult decision to cancel the annual outdoor Light up a Life switch-on service for this year.

The hospice is instead endeavouring to reach out to even more families across Wirral with a pre-recorded film of the lights switch on service. This will be available to view from the comfort of people’s own homes, via the hospice’s website, from 6pm on Sunday 6th December.

The short film will capture the spirit of the lights switch-on, interspersed with carols from a socially-distanced hospice choir featuring locally renowned singer, Sarah Mullis. It will also contain the recollections of people, like Lisa and Clare, whose families have experienced the hospice’s dedicated care as well as heartfelt thoughts and readings from the hospice team, including some wonderful volunteers.

More details can be found at www.wirralhospice.org/lightupalife

You are not alone: Jennifer Pickavance remembers her mum, Michaela, and the kind and compassionate care she came to know at Wirral Hospice St John’s #care #hospicehero #wirralhospice #support #hospicecare #caring #thankyou #lightupalife

Emma, Michaela and Jen

In what has been a challenging time for all of us, Jennifer Pickavance, ‘Jen’, and her sister, Emma, and their wider family, have been through much more than many.

Jen and Emma’s mum, Michaela had been living with a primary diagnosis of lung cancer, complicated by tumours in her brain and vertebrae, since September 2017. Jen assures us that her Mum lived her life as well as she possibly could in these last few years, holidaying and socialising with friends whenever possible, before she sadly passed away at Wirral Hospice St John’s in April.

The hospice’s Jamie-Leigh and I met with Jen as she has volunteered to speak on a pre-recorded film we’re producing for our annual Light up a Life commemorations*, and she told us all about Michaela, her lovely Mum.

She was my best friend, we spent every minute we could together and I couldn’t have asked for a better mum. I find it hard put into words how much she meant, and still means, to me and how much I love her.  

After mum recovered from anxiety and panic attacks herself, she wanted to pursue a career in mental health to help others. She was in her 40’s when she attended Chester University to study Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). We were all so proud when she attained her Diploma in CBT and when, soon after which, she became a high intensity CBT therapist at Inclusion Matters, Wirral.

Emma and Jen hug Mum, Michaela, at her graduation

When her illness was first diagnosed it appeared that her prognosis wasn’t great, but Dr Carlo (Palmieri, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre) was amazing and found she had a rare type of lung cancer which meant her initial treatment would not have to be as intense as it sometimes can.

For two years, she was doing really well. She was as fit and healthy as she could be and, for the most part, got to enjoy the things she loved doing, nice holidays and being with family, she was close with her sisters Trisha, Donna and Lizzie (she was the second oldest) and had a wide circle of lovely friends.

By late 2019 however, the illness was catching up and she underwent radiotherapy and an intensive course of combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy. By January she’d experienced a seizure and was admitted to Wirral Hospice’s inpatients ward.

She had already been an outpatient at the hospice for over a year under Dr Helen (Emms, a consultant at the hospice), whom she loved, and Mum had also been a patient in the hospice’s Wellbeing Centre where she took part in arts and crafts and aromatherapy sessions which she really enjoyed.

She was able to access counselling too which I think helped her a lot. The hospice was a whole new experience for her. I knew she felt safe and at ease in the calm and caring atmosphere of the hospice.

The hospice team really helped her manage her anxiety and went above and beyond for her.

Her 53rd birthday fell on the 8th March and the hospice helped us arrange a party in their family room which meant a great deal to us all. It’s a lovely memory we will cherish forever. She liked everyone she met at the hospice and had a special regard for the hospice’s Tracy, and many others, who showed her so much care and compassion and always managed to cheer her up.

I know my mum would have loved to be at home towards the end of her life but it wasn’t possible and the hospice was actually the perfect place for her as they cared for her in ways I don’t think we could have.

I can’t thank the hospice staff enough for what they did for our family, one of the nurses, Sandy, held my mum’s hand in the moment she passed away. That’s not a job just anybody could do, I will always appreciate that and hold it in my heart forever. 

I am so beyond grateful for everything the hospice did for us, and does for others. I have never experienced the loss of a loved one before. The hospice made our heartbreaking experience that little more bearable.

The continued support they’ve given me is so appreciated, I am forever grateful”. 

It was a devastating time in itself for Jen, Emma and the family, Michaela was only 53, but their pain was further compounded when, in the same week, their Nan, Pat, and Grandad, George, Michaela’s parents, passed away after succumbing to COVID 19.

It’s been, simply, heartbreaking!

At only 23 years of age Jen has coped with so much this year. She has a great supportive network of aunties, uncles, cousins, her Dad and his family and lots of close friends. She talks all the time to her sister, Emma, who lives in London with her boyfriend, and who makes regular trips home to Wirral for ‘quality sister time‘ whenever they can.

Jen also looks after and takes great comfort from their dog, Candy, a cute Bichon Frise.

Jamie-Leigh and I came away from meeting Jen in complete admiration. She’s been, understandably, tearful at times, but so brave and so eloquent.

She’s a real credit to her whole family and, of course, Michaela, her lovely mum!

Michaela

NB: *(Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and to keep everyone safe, the hospice has made the difficult decision to cancel the annual outdoor Light up a Life switch-on service for this year.

The hospice is instead endeavouring to reach out to even more families across Wirral with a pre-recorded film of the lights switch on service. This will be available to view from the comfort of people’s own homes, via the hospice’s website, from 6pm on Sunday 6th December.

The short film will capture the spirit of the lights switch-on, interspersed with carols from a socially-distanced hospice choir featuring locally renowned singer, Sarah Mullis. It will also contain the recollections of people, like Jen, whose families have experienced the hospice’s dedicated care as well as heartfelt thoughts and readings from the hospice team, including some wonderful volunteers.

More details can be found at www.wirralhospice.org/light-up-a-life

Born to Run: Hospice physiotherapist Miriam and friend Bev to do Virtual London Marathon for Wirral Hospice St John’s

#healthcare #hospicehero #wirralhospice  #physiotherapy #caring #wellbeing  #fun  #thankyou

Hospice Physio Miriam – with hospice colleagues wishing her well

If you’ve done, or can imagine doing, a London Marathon in normal times, you’ll have trained hard, loaded up with carbs, seen all the publicity build as the day approaches and organised your thoughts about how the day will pan out for you.

There would normally be thousands of people gathering ready to run, jog, trot, plod and, maybe, even walk for a myriad of good causes. Many others would line the streets to cheer on their friends, family and all the other runners around the course.

A huge gathering of humanity and goodwill spurs the runners on and helps them to get ‘over the line’.

However, on Sunday 4th October, and far away from the Capital, thousands of people will still be completing gruelling runs for their chosen charities, just without the extra impetus provided by the crowd.

So, think about doing that 26.2 miles when only you, and one friend, cheered off by a small gathering of your social bubble, are relying on true grit and self-belief to get you around?

Well, that’s what Wirral Hospice St John’s Physio, Miriam Lemon and her friend, Bev Tasker, will be doing on Sunday 4th October, 2020.

Yes, they’re in the 40th London Marathon after more places were made available to allow people to run the distance closer to home on a route of their own choosing (the London course will not be open!)

Miriam and Bev’s route – taking in the Wirral Coastline

We trust Bev will be a great running mate (Miriam says so) and with a number of family, friends and hospice colleagues volunteering to complete sections of the run alongside the pair of marathoners, socially distanced of course, we’re sure they’ll complete the distance with flying colours.

We took the opportunity to find out a little bit more about Miriam, her family and her life at Wirral Hospice St John’s. Before I spoke to her I asked one or two of her colleagues for their opinion on her and her chances:

Her whole family are like the sporting family from the card game Happy Families. She’ll smash it, we call them The Incredibles.

Miriam laughs when I tell her this and with typical humility she says, “I’m the least incredible.”

Daughter, Imogen, 13, is an accomplished short course swimmer and has competed in the Welsh National Championships, while son, Toby, 11, is an all-rounder enjoying football but with his coaches at the Deeside Amateur Athletics Club nurturing a talent for running at all distances from sprinting to 5k (under 21 minutes already!). Incredible!

It turns out husband, Dave (pictured above running with Toby), has completed 5 of the 6 ‘World Marathon’ series in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and has only Tokyo to go! Incredible!

The Incredibles on a family hike: L-R, Miriam, Toby, Imogen, Dave and their dog, Lexi

For her part Miriam claims she’s not really a runner. Her sports are Netball, she once starred for Anglesey’s Valley Vixens, and she rowed, most notably for the renowned Worcester Rowing Club.

So why is she running this year?

Miriam had challenged herself that in the year she turns 40 she would complete the ‘Chester Triple’, an annual three event challenge encompassing an organised 10km run, followed by a half marathon and either a ‘metric marathon’, 26km, (which Miriam had signed up for) or a full traditional marathon later in the year.

However, having duly completed the 10k on 8th March, the other events were cancelled in the light of COVID 19. Miriam decided to complete the half on her own in Lockdown and now the (Virtual) London Marathon will round off her own personal triple in 2020. Incredible!

At the hospice Miriam is one of the physiotherapists in our Patient and Family Services team.

She qualified from Keele University early in the new millennium. From there she has worked in the NHS in Worcestershire, moved around with Dave who is in the RAF, taking in Cyprus between 2008 and 2011, via Anglesey and Surrey, where she was able to apply her physiotherapy skills to people in intensive care and to support acute medicine.

Miriam’s now been at Wirral Hospice St John’s for 3 years and explains how physiotherapy fits into the overall support and care we offer patients,

“Our job is to maximise people’s potential, building strength, balance and mobility. We want patients to be as independent as possible, helping them with breathlessness, symptom control, fatigue and anxiety. We’ve found that many patients can benefit from things like acupuncture, help with flexibility and by setting achievable goals people really manage well with their symptoms.”

On her colleagues at the hospice Miriam is heartfelt,

“They really are the best people I could have ever chosen to work with.”

With only 3 weeks before the Marathon all of her colleagues, friends and family will be spurring Miriam (and friend Bev) on. She’s created a Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/miriam-lemon to raise funds towards Wirral Hospice St John’s specialist care and support services

It won’t be easy but there is a word for what she’ll feel when she reaches the finishing line on Sunday 4th October.

Now, What is it again?

Oh YES……… Incredible!

Have The Incredibles discovered the fountain of youth?

Supporting carers in these exceptional times. Carers Week is 8th-14th June #carers #caring #family #wirralhospice #patientcare #makingcaringvisible #thankyou

‘Carers’ are the unpaid army of family and friends who spend many hours caring for and supporting people with physical and mental illness and disability, above and beyond the services that statutory, private and/or charitable health & social care organisations provide.

The week of 8th-14th June is national Carers Week, with a rallying call of ‘Making Caring Visible’, it’s designed to raise awareness of the estimated 6.5 million people who have unpaid caring responsibilities across the UK.

HeatherWirral Hospice St John’s spiritual care coordinator, Heather MacLeod (a little more about her later), reminded me of these lyrics, famously sung by Celine Dion*, to capture all we contemplate during national Carers Week.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ’cause you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you love me

Perfect!

Carers will often class themselves as, just, a wife, husband, partner, son, daughter, grandparent or other family member or friend. Their care comes from a sense of duty and a deep well of love.

We see this, close up, every single day at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

Supporting and caring for people with life limiting illnesses is at the heart of everything we do and, in order to really know our patients, to extend the care and support we provide for them, we also offer services designed to help their carers, practically, spiritually and emotionally.

In normal times we’ll see and work with carers in all of our settings, Inpatients, Outpatients, Wellbeing Centre (day services) and Hospice at Home.

Physio Room (1)The current coronavirus crisis, calling on all of us to limit direct contact and minimise all but essential travel, has inevitably altered our ways of reaching out to carers.

Early on in the pandemic even visiting in our Inpatients ward was severely restricted. We managed ways to allow a small number of closest relatives to visit loved ones by supplying face masks and other personal protective equipment and reinforcing hand washing and safety recommendations.

For the wider family we’ve been providing patients with electronic equipment, such as IPads, if they don’t have their own, so that they can see each other and chat.

james george conference poster

Although some of the patient and family services team are working from home (hello Suzanne and Co) they are set up to continue working with patients and their carers. Where we can’t meet with carers, which is in most services just now, we’re staying in touch through telephone calls and other electronic communications.

On Friday of Carers Week we brought an afternoon tea for the visitors to our inpatients to remind them how we appreciate their massive contribution to the wellbeing of their loved ones. Scones with jam and cream and a nice drink… mmmmm!

Hospice Reception (1)Enquiries about welfare benefits and signposting to emotional and psychological support, including liaison with other local agencies, while agreeing plans of action are still being handled by our professional social workers, James and Ann-Marie.

Emily Fozard. Counsellor

Bereavement counselling, facilitated by the most accomplished listener, Stella, also continues in what are especially psychologically distressing circumstances for families. (A mention here for our other counsellor, Emily, (pictured left) who is on maternity leave with all of our best wishes).

Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and exercise co-ordinators, Sarah, Miriam, Elizabeth and Tracy (hello to Katy also on maternity leave) continue to work with patients and source instruction videos for those at home with their families and other carers.

Aroma Therapy (5)We’ve had to suspend our aromatherapy service, provided in normal times by the most soothing and empathetic practitioner, Lindsey, because of the necessary close proximity of delivery. We look forward to restoring the service as soon as we can.

And, of course, the wonderful Heather MacLeod, (our spiritual care coordinator,read a little bit more about Heather here), is available to provide her heartfelt comfort and advice to people who are sometimes struggling to find meaning or peace in what are really the most challenging time of their lives.

To all those families and other carers of our patients, your loved ones, please know Wirral Hospice St John’s is here for you.

Hospice Nurses (1)

Author: Billy Howard

*Words to ‘Because you loved me’ written by Diane Warren © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management 

All photos taken pre-COVID social distancing regulations.

 

 

The ‘V’ to ‘V’ of Valiant Volunteers at Wirral Hospice St John’s #volunteers #volunteering #VolunteersWeek #hospiceheroes #wirralhospice #caring #thankyou

Volunteers Week’ is an annual celebration of the massive contribution volunteers make to the multitude of organisations doing good works in all of our communities.

It’s run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering Wendie 2across the UK.

Our Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteers add so much to the life of the hospice but, as with many organisations, the coronavirus crisis has meant that the overwhelming majority of ours, some 500 of them, have been asked to stay at home until conditions prevail which will allow them to return to us.

To say we miss them is an understatement. We miss them like crazy!

Norma 2In normal times they are simply ‘here’ for us, at the hospice and in our Wirral Community. They’re part of the hospice family, They are, very often in fact, the ‘face’ of the hospice.

  • At main, outpatients and fundraising receptions they get people to where they want to go physically or by telephone. You’ll always be greeted with a friendly ‘hello, how can I help you’.
  • Inpatient ward general duties volunteers bring patients their drinks and often stop for a friendly chat or even help patients to share their stories. In our Wellbeing Centre volunteers will also make patients a nice drink, engage them in enriching and fun activities, facilitate group chats and be ‘on hand’ to alert our nursing staff if there’s a clinical need.liz 1
  • At fundraising events there are always volunteers to direct our supporters to help them sign in, to buy cakes and refreshments and to sell raffle and tombola tickets and the like.
  • Out in the community there are some 150 volunteers who work shifts in our charity shops or at the hospice gift shop (in the run up to Christmas) to advise customers, sort out donated stock, dress windows and serve. Others help our retail team by assessing and preparing those donated items which are potentially more valuable for ebay.
  • Bill Collins with CaroleOur volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, counting all the pennies that come in from collection boxes sited all over Wirral, helping in accounts, tending to the hospice gardens, collecting lottery cash and even holding their own community fundraising gatherings.

Every single one of them is an inspiration and they choose to volunteer for many and varied reasons. Some young people like to bolster their CV and gain work experience, others, often older, retired and greatly experienced, have lived in Wirral for years and know the work of the hospice and many have also had their own personal experience of the hospice’s caring services, through spouses, family and friends.

What is also true is that they’ve always got their hands in their pockets. Not in the ‘standing around’ sense, but in their generous support of the hospice with their own money. They’re incredible people.Ann D 2

From time to time we’ve shared stories from some of our vigorous, vibrant, valuable, versatile and (often) vivacious volunteers and we’ve linked you to some of them again to recall all of their great work.

If you click on their name below it will take you to their story so, in no particular order,

Wendie Darlington: Will do whatever’s needed for Wirral Hospice St John’s

Norma Edwards: Radiating positive energy in our Wellbeing Centre

Liz MunroOur gently effective fundraising volunteer, ‘par excellence’

Bill Collins: 30+ years an inpatients ward volunteer and regular ‘Light up a Life’ poet 

Ann Dermody: At the heart of the community at our Liscard charity shop

Susan Seed: Hospice friend, supporter and volunteer, since day one!

Niamh McEvoy: A young volunteer who ‘goes for it’ in our Moreton charity shop

Geoff ShannonA charismatic former telescope engineer in our Wellbeing Centre

Marianne Sunter: Retired chemistry teacher who reacts brilliantly to any situation

Colin MiddlebroughA volunteer we can all count on

Sue AWe hope you enjoy their stories as much as we value their, and all of our other vivid volunteers, precious time and excellent company.

Here’s a list of all the ‘V‘ words you can put in front of the word ‘volunteer’ to reinforce their priceless contributions.Colin

Valiant – showing courage and determination

Valuable – extremely useful and important, worth a great deal

Valorous – great courage in the face of danger

Va Va Voom – exciting, vigorous and attractive

Marianne 1

Varied – a number of different types or elements

Vaunted – praised or boasted about

Vaulting – prepared to jump over obstacles

Venerable – accorded a great deal of respect especially because of age, wisdom or character

Veracious – speaking or representing the truth

Versatile – able to adapt or be adapted to many functions or activities

Versed – experienced or skilled in: Knowledgeable about

Vivid – intensely bright, lively and vigorous

Niamh 3

Vigilant – keeping careful watch for dangers or difficulties

Vibrant – full of energy and life

VIP’s – very important people

Vigorous – strong, healthy and full of life

Geoff

Vim – Energy and enthusiasm

Virtuous – having or showing high moral standards

Vital – absolutely necessary, essential

Vivacious – attractively lively and animated

Vocal – expressing opinions freely (or loudly)

Vroom – the idea of speed or acceleration

It’s safe to say, Wirral Hospice St John’s VIP volunteers bring a veracious, vital value and variety, to all that we do. Verily!

Author: Billy Howard

%d bloggers like this: