Continuing my series of features on those without whom the hospital wouldn’t function, Jill Bayliss has just celebrated her 57th birthday – and she knows the value of life because she once saved someone’s.
Support Services Assistant Jill, who has been employed by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for 23 years, works 27 hours a week cleaning all the machinery in the kitchen and helping to prepare the meals for the next day.
While her entire career at the Manor has been spent in Catering, the first half of it was spent on the wards. Making cups of tea, collecting water jugs, putting food in the ovens and serving meals to patients on Wards 11 and 12, Jill also took the menu orders for around 50 patients for the following day.
The latter task was less straightforward than it sounds. There were different menus for different patients, for example those who struggled to chew or digest food would have a ‘soft’ or ‘fluid’ menu, while others had to have thickeners in their drinks. Then there were those with diabetes, or who needed lactose free meals, or gluten intolerant patients who had different choices.
That interaction with people was to prove key when she came to a patient’s aid at just the right time.
“Seeing the patients daily, you get to know them and I asked one man in his 50s if he wanted a drink but he didn’t seem his usual self and his colour wasn’t right,” recalled Jill.
“When I went to collect his tea cup, I looked at him again and when I saw him, told the sister in charge that she should look at him. It turned out he was having a heart attack. Thankfully, they saved his life. She said to me he was very lucky I was there.”
Jill has experienced plenty more of that human connection that cheers all of our hearts from time to time – even years afterwards.
“A nurse came up to me not long ago and said ‘you looked after my nan on Ward 11’. The nurse explained how she was only nine or 10 at the time but that her nan idolised me and I thought how touching it was that she remembered.
“I sometimes miss that interaction because I used to get to see a lot of patients, but I prefer my hours now, starting earlier in the day.”
For her recent birthday, Jill, from Alumwell, who has three children and 13 grandchildren, was treated to a visit to the set of her favourite TV show Call The Midwife over a long weekend which also included coach trips to Blackpool and Torquay, chauffeured by partner of 12 years Kerion, a coach driver.
Reflecting on her long career at the Trust, Jill says she enjoys her job and would be happy to stay at the Manor until she retires – not least because she can walk to work every day, as if she doesn’t get enough steps in when she’s on shift!
Well done Jill!