Mealtime assistants make lunchtimes more enjoyable at Queen’s Hospital

Our feeding buddies with Kathryn, our Chief Nurse

Our feeding buddies with Kathryn, our Chief Nurse The first two Mealtime Assistants, Brenda Northcott and Pauline Hills, joined Sunrise B ward on Monday (15 February), helping elderly patients to eat their lunch.

They are two of 14 volunteers who have received awareness training since we appealed for volunteers following patient feedback.

Pauline, who already volunteers on Queen’s Sky A ward, wanted to give back to the hospital where she was treated for CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy), a neurological disorder.

The 68-year-old, from Rainham, said: “It’s a joy to be able to give something back.

“I cared for my mum and dad, who have both passed away, and I really enjoy talking to older people. When I once visited my dad in hospital, there was a patient who had no visitors and he was lonely, so my dad sent me to talk to him.

“I enjoyed my first day as a Mealtime Assistant, the gentleman really wanted to eat, he just needed a little help.”

Brenda, 67, from Harold Wood, is also an experienced volunteer who regularly helps out at day centres for the elderly run by the charity Tapestry.

She said: “I worked as a carer for the council and I got a lot out of it. I started out helping at the coffee shop at Harold Wood Polyclinic and this is my first time volunteering at the hospital.”

The scheme will be rolled out to further wards at Queen’s, as well as at King George Hospital and more volunteers will have awareness training in March and April before joining the team.

Chief Nurse Kathryn Halford said:

“Some of our more vulnerable patients may need that little bit of extra help to eat their meal, or even just someone to chat to which can brighten their day.

“We have many valued volunteers across our hospitals helping us to provide the best care possible to our patients, and this scheme will make mealtimes a bit more social and enjoyable, especially for vulnerable people away from home and the environment they’re used to.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer, or find out more about the scheme, should contact Cliona Taleb, Nutrition Support Lead at

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