Ward Nurse Liza Bradbury: The Z in Liza is for Zen! From volunteer at the hospice 40 years ago now ‘back home’ on our inpatients ward

Published on: 08/09/2023

As we sit down to chat with Liza she has her singing bowl close by.

It’s a curious metal piece with dimples and other patterns engraved into the mould and, with the little wooden mallet she whirls around the bowl in a circular motion, she elicits a resonating bright and clear tone which fills the room.

This is the signal to close your eyes and listen to Liza’s calming voice encourage three deep breaths, “In through your nose … (for about 10 seconds)… Out through your mouth… (also about 10 seconds)..”

It is so relaxing. You zone out any other thoughts and clear your mind, refreshed for whatever your next task or challenge is. Liza says,

Occasionally I’ll find a quiet space, strike up the singing bowl, and just relax for a few minutes. It helps me channel positivity, ready for the next few hours on our inpatients ward. Some colleagues think I’m a little bit nuts, I am, but when I’ve invited them to let me show them, they too have felt the benefits.

Liza’s been nearly forty years in nursing now. She remembers from a very early age knowing she would be a nurse. At sixteen years of age she actually volunteered at our newly opened St John’s Hospice, as it was called in those days, and she’s been working her way back here for a very long time.

Her nan encouraged her to volunteer at the hospice because “if you can handle life at the hospice’ you’ll be able to handle anything.

In those days volunteers, especially those with previous experience, or the ambition to take up a nursing vocation, were given the opportunity to give hands-on care. Liza remembers sister Maureen (Mo Hemming) and Albert, who was an ex-nurse and also a volunteer himself, giving her great advice and assistance.

She was able to aid patients, supervised of course, with toileting, washing hands and faces, doing laundry, ironing in the patients lounge (she remembers they called it the living room), making teas and coffees, serving refreshments and she was always ready to chat with patients and their visitors.

Her service was noted, because in that year of volunteering she won a Lord Leverhulme prize for services to the community. Well done, Liza!

LIza is top row first left

Her formal nurse training and subsequent fourteen years as a registered nurse were spent mainly on the surgical wards at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Liza then spent another 14 years working in intensive and coronary care in private practice at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle.

Then hospice services, from all those years ago, would come into her formal nursing when she joined East Cheshire Hospice in 2010.

After four great years Liza faced the most significant challenge of her own. In 2014, Liza was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was living in Derbyshire by now and Blythe House hospice offered Wellbeing services for people living with cancer, including those who might even be on a cancer journey towards remission.

Thankfully, Liza is one of those cancer survivors. Blythe House helped immensely. It was where complementary therapies and help with fatigue, anxiety and breathing really made a difference to Liza and since 2015 she has been in remission. It’s also where some of the singing bowl practices have continued in her own life.

Liza credits her children, George, now 23 and Emily, 21, as being “the beautiful human beings who helped me, every single day, to become a cancer survivor.

In 2016 Liza joined Blythe House as a nurse in their Wellbeing Centre. A move back to Wirral in January 2021 saw her join the Integrated Palliative Care Support Team (IPCST) team (funded by MacMillan and housed at Wirral Hospice St John’s) as senior nurse practitioner supporting palliative patients in their own homes and in other settings in the community.

And now? Liza’s Wirral Hospice journey has come full circle as, since September 2022, she has been a nurse on our inpatients ward and it is clear to see, she is delighted,

“All of the people I work with have such big hearts, and not just my lovely colleagues, our volunteers and, of course, our patients and their closest loved ones. It’s a place of joy, wonder and, yes, laughter and, of course, sometimes sorrow. We’re all there to deliver our care and support whatever is important to our patients, whenever it is needed. I love the hospice. I feel like I have really come home”.

You can almost hear Liza’s singing bowl… there’s no place like home… there’s no place like home… there’s no place like home

Welcome home, Liza.