Mealtime companions to give patients a helping hand

A new group of volunteers at the trust are set to help people to eat well during their hospital stay.

The mealtime companions will be supporting the staff on the wards by encouraging patients to eat and drink in a calm and sociable atmosphere, helping to cut up their food and make mealtimes a more enjoyable and social experience.

Associate director of nursing, quality and patient experience Barbara Carr said: “We’re very excited to start recruiting mealtime companions on the wards. We’re seeing an increase in the number of elderly patients and patients with dementia and we know that those patients often need a little extra help, particularly at mealtimes.

“The idea came about after the hospitals were very busy and we asked for non-clinical staff to volunteer to help the ward staff at mealtimes to encourage patients to eat and assist them with eating their meals.

“We found that the support was fantastic for the ward staff, it improved the patient experience and the staff who had volunteered could see that their contribution was making a real difference to patient care.

“Having someone to sit and chat to can make eating a much more pleasurable, social experience for patients, especially those who may be reluctant to eat or who take a long time to finish a meal.

“The mealtime companions will be supported at all times by a member of staff and they will receive specific training from the nursing, catering, dietetics and speech and language therapy teams to help with communication skills and nutritional knowledge.

“All volunteers play a vital part in helping to support our hospitals and improving patient care and we really appreciate everything they do.”

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