Offering an alcoholic drink to patients before their lunch and evening meal is an established service in many hospice in-patient and day service units. The appropriateness of this long-established service at Sobell House has recently been a point of discussion among staff. Concerns have been expressed about the appropriateness of promoting alcohol, and its potential for harm. These discussions prompted an evaluation of this service from the patients’ perspective.
A patient experience survey was conducted during January 2016, which included several questions about this alcoholic drink service. Every patient attending day service was invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire on their experience of the care received. The same questionnaire was given to patients on the ward (or their family member if they were unable to complete it), and posted to a random sample of community patients. A total of 71 completed questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 33%.
The response to this survey has shown that the alcoholic drink service is valued by both users and non-users. 59% of respondents explicitly endorsed the value of the service. Of the remainder, all except one were equivocal or did not comment. Respondents describe it as a valued service, which provides social benefits and a sense of normality in an institutional environment. It is also seen to convey a sense of valuing the individual as a person rather than a patient.
This survey provides evidence for the value of an alcoholic drink service for patients. As a result, the hospice is clearer about its benefit and more aware of potential concerns. An action plan has been developed to respond to patients’ concerns about its cost to the charity, and to ensure that quality non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
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