Providing good, nourishing food and drink is an important part of hospice care for patients. St Peter's Hospice Chef, Louise and Assistant Chef, Gerrie cook a wide variety of fresh, homemade dishes each day for patients who are being cared for by our Inpatient Unit. They also cook a range of meals that are served at our café, ensuring that patients' families and visitors, staff and Day Services patients are looked after too.
Gerrie says: "For those staying at the Inpatient Unit, food needs to meet each person's individual needs, so it's cooked per person. People may decide that they don't want what's on the menu and my mantra's always been: if we've got it and you fancy it, we'll cook it! And, if you fancy it but we don't have it, we'll do our best to get it for you.
"In this job you get to know the patients and what they like and don't like. A few years ago, there was a chap who'd been in and his favourite meal was chicken and chips. He went home for a while but one day I saw chicken and chips selected on the menu I knew that he'd come back in."
Our patient menu is rotated on a 28 day basis and each day a homemade soup or fruit is offered, along with a choice of three main courses (two meat and one vegetarian meal) and two freshly made desserts plus an ice-cream option. The soft food items are the most popular choice for patients, especially soup, crème brûlée, lemon posset and crème caramel, as they're easier options if swallowing is difficult.
"For many of us, food is an enjoyment," says Gerrie, "however, many patients don't eat much and so what they do eat you want to be memorable. In the past we've created a pub night for a patient, complete with bar-themed decorations. Recently, I was asked to prepare afternoon tea so that a patient could experience sharing it with her mother. I wheeled it in and I could tell there were tears in the room as I left.
"Some patients who live on their own may just have minimal food or be stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking. Sometimes people come in to the unit and they haven't eaten in ages.
"I find that if someone cooks food and puts it in front of you, that's tempting. The most rewarding thing I hear is when someone says, 'I haven't eaten for days and you've broken that barrier'. It leaves you feeling that you've done your bit when they eat your food and gives you a warm, fuzzy glow. It's a special pat on the back."Back to News