A tasty fish-finger sandwich or nutritious three-course lunch – patients in St Richard’s Hospice are now offered a bespoke menu tailored to their individual tastes.
After a successful pilot project, St Richard’s has introduced a team of volunteers working seven days a week to deliver the personalised service, led by hospitality co-ordinator Tracey Heritage.
A member of the hospitality team visits each patient in the 17-bed In-patient Unit mid-morning to talk them through the choice on the three-course menu for the day. Starters of soup, melon and berries, prawn cocktail; mains with a meat, fish and vegetarian option and hot and cold desserts are all on offer.
Tracey explained, “Each day the sister in charge of the In-patient Unit lets us know which patients may have particular needs with their food, such as being diabetic or requiring soft dishes.
“We go in and chat with each patient to ask what they may feel like eating for lunch. Sometimes they are not very hungry so we ask what would tempt them or what they would fancy if they were at home. The catering team at the hospice is brilliant, and try to prepare anything within reason. For example one patient said he would really love a fish-finger sandwich so that’s what we gave him!”
Before the launch of the hospitality team, patients had been asked for their meal choices the previous day and lunch was served with all three courses in one go by members of the nursing team.
Head of Catering, Kevin Ratcliffe said, “We realized that for some patients it was difficult to decide what they might want to eat a day later or how they would feel. It was also daunting for some to have all their food on a tray together.
“Often people lose their appetite, either as a result of their illness or as a result of treatments. We are passionate that patients should be able to enjoy their favourite foods, despite their clinical challenges.”
“We aim to produce delicious meals using fresh ingredients, sourced from local suppliers, choosing foods with high nutritional and calorific value and incorporate them into appetising small portion meals. By being offered a choice of meals, attractively presented, many patients are enthused to eat despite having a poor appetite.”
He added, “The new hospitality team gives nursing staff more time to spend on patient care and also more choice for our patients. Tracey or the volunteer will take each hand-plated course to our patients individually. ”
Tracey commented, “We focus on the patient and we’ve had a really positive response. They like being asked what they would enjoy eating and having it brought to them just a couple of hours later. We bring each course as they are ready to eat and get to know each patient as individuals. It’s a privilege to talk to patients and work with a great team of caring volunteers. ”
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their families. Each year the hospice team supports over 2,600 patients and family members in Worcestershire with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.
Patients are cared for in Day Hospice, the 17-bed In-patient Unit or in their own homes by a specialist professional team as well as many trained volunteers.
In the In-patient Unit, specialist staff are on hand 24 hours a day to manage patients’ symptoms and where, if appropriate, patients may spend the last few days of life in comfort and dignity. St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it to continue its work.