Background Food is at the core of our existence and wellbeing. It provides familiarity and comfort, it brings families and friends together. In the context of palliative care, food choice can be seen as the sole opportunity for a patient to still make their own choices.
In our relentless pursuit to improve quality of life for our patients we identified the need to make food readily available to our patients throughout the day. Set meal times are not suited to the unpredictable nature of a hospice patient’s daily schedule.
Aim To provide nutritious, tailor-made, enticing meals and drinks in the form of hotel room-service when our patients and their visiting families or friends want and need them. In addition to an á la carte menu we strive to meet any patient request for food, regardless of how difficult to source it may be.
Method Consultation meetings carried out with the medical teams. Á la carte menu created with nutritionist support. Food service trial sessions carried out involving patients, families and medical. Evaluation of food service trials. Patient survey carried out – feedback provided.
Results Improved patient nutrition as meal times were not missed. Increased patient satisfaction recorded as a result of feedback surveys. Reduced waste as meals are prepared as and when required.
Conclusions Working in end of life care you develop an appreciation early on that every meal prepared has to be the best. It could very well be the last meal a patient has. Evaluation of the room-service catering shows a positive contribution. We have also learnt how much our input can mean and matter to relatives and friends of patients. Seeing a loved one being cared for, not just through exceptional medical/nursing care, but through a dedicated catering team trying their hardest too, may just help to ease the pain they experience as well.
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