Happy Retirement to Jill Littlewood our outgoing Inpatients Ward ManagerPublished on: 23/03/2021
After “40-odd years” as a nurse, Yorkshire born Jill, has seen it all!
Since January 2014 Jill has been putting Wirral Hospice St John’s patients’ at the heart of all that she does and, believe me, she has done a lot!
As Inpatients Ward Manager, Jill, has had a busy job, but you know she’s found it wholly fulfilling when you speak to her,
“I love the passionate commitment of the people I’ve worked with; the staff and the volunteers. We all care about the wellbeing of our patients and their families and, professionally, I couldn’t have worked with a better team. Sometimes, the work has been challenging but we help each other through, as we do with our patients, over a cup of tea and a chat. Sometimes I needed to look after the team and sometimes they have had to look after me.”
Even in the past 6 years or so Jill has seen some changes,
“The care we give has been greatly enhanced by the development of the services we provide both here and out in our Wirral communities. People from the various 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.”
And, of course, COVID 19 has been a large part of the backdrop of Jill’s final year at the hospice,
“It has obviously been the hardest challenge of all of our careers. The limited visiting, we’ve been spending a lot of the year apologising, and not being able to give hugs has been heart-breaking. But people are amazing. Families still always expressing their gratitude is forever humbling. And, the people who’ve rallied round from school nurses, health visitors, student nurses and others has been brilliant!”
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 22 years a district nurse in Chester.
Until eventually, Jill fulfilled her ultimate vocation, hospice care,
“Our job is to get people experiencing severe pain or discomfort, as a result of their illnesses, back to their own home environment whenever we can. Wirral Hospice St John’s is the best place in the world to support people, often at the most challenging time for them and their families”.
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. Rachel’s daughter, Olivia, is five (she features in hospice history in her own right, below), while, Anthony and his partner, Felicity, have Daisy, Jill and Steve’s second granddaughter and she’s two.
A couple of years back Olivia introduced ‘Granny Jill’ to internet viral sensation the Baby Shark challenge. Jill was so taken by the fun they both had, learning the moves to the song, she shared it with colleagues at the hospice.
It was deemed a fun challenge to get more of the hospice team involved in and Pied Piper, Jill, gathered up a 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 then went on to reach well over half a million people by featuring on BBC Breakfast, ITV’s Lorraine and other media channels, including The Daily Mirror’s Facebook page.
Following that ‘splash’, Jill inspired a team of hospice ‘Sharks’ to literally ‘take to the water’ to raise funds for the hospice. The story of how that team got on is linked here at ‘The Dee Mile’.
“When I arrived from the NHS I quickly saw how the money the hospice raises for our charity goes to the delivery of patient care. It made me want to find personal ways to get involved in that side of things too.”
Now Jill is set to do a couple of challenges for the hospice after she retires. She’s getting on her bike for a Liverpool-Leeds ride following the famous canal path, AND she’s also signed up again for The Dee Mile!
Phew! Keep checking in for progress on those ongoing pursuits!
Another of Jill’s passions is for singing! As a proud member of the Chester Operatic Society, she also 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.
Jill tells us that she has taken most pleasure in helping younger people – her words – develop into their roles at the hospice. She loves it when people “get skilled up, do well and get on.”
There are too many people to highlight here as Jill says a fond farewell and a massive thank you to everyone she has worked with in her career and especially in recent years at the hospice.
She does, however, have a word for her successor, Lisa, (more about her in a future story).
“Lisa has really grown into her role. She has every right to make it her own, bring her bright personality and new ideas to the team. She is someone they can trust and knows that sometimes you have to give a little bit because invariably you get a lot back! My very best wishes are with her.”
Wise words from the one and only, Jill Littlewood.
Everyone at Wirral Hospice St John’s and across our Wirral community wishes her a well-deserved and very happy retirement.