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Let’s do lunch

Wednesday December 24, 2014

The Mayor of Worthing and the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham both participated in an innovative new staff volunteer scheme during a visit to Worthing Hospital on Christmas Eve.

Cllr Vic Walker, accompanied by the Mayoress Mrs Rosemary Walker, and Tim Loughton MP were invited to find out more about Let’s Do Lunch which helps patients benefit from dining companions while staying in hospital.

More than 80 non-medical staff employed by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Southlands, Worthing and St Richard’s hospitals, have volunteered to help older patients enjoy their meals at lunchtime.

“Let’s Do Lunch is a simple but brilliant idea,” said Mr Loughton.

“There are people on the ward who really benefit from a bit of company and socialising, and lunchtime isn’t just about putting a plate of food in front of somebody, it’s about engaging with them and making sure they are ok.”

Mayoress Rosemary Walker 'does lunch' with patient Brian Alner
Mayoress Rosemary Walker ‘does lunch’ with Worthing Hospital patient Brian Alner

Lunchtime in the hospital is one of the busiest periods of the day for nurses and this can detract from patients receiving the encouragement they need to support their nutritional intake.

However, Let’s Do Lunch dining companions volunteer to give patients quality time and, once trained and vetted, they can also provide additional assistance to those in greater need.

Cllr Walker, who spent lunch on Broadwater Ward with 82-year-old Ray Hart from East Preston, said: “It is a great idea and another way to validate and care for the person.

“It was a real privilege for me to spend time with Ray today, just talking and sharing.”

Brian Alner, an 82-year-old patient from Henfield, was delighted to meet the Mayoress, saying: “I was absolutely staggered. The work that goes on here and the way in which this place runs is absolutely miraculous.”

Let’s Do Lunch not only benefits patients, but it is also rewarding for staff volunteers who, despite working for an acute trust, may not otherwise visit wards or often meet frontline colleagues.

“It has brought everyone together,” said Brett Meaton, Charge Nurse on Broadwater Ward, one of four wards piloting Let’s Do Lunch at Worthing and St Richard’s Hospitals.

“Colleagues that have come to Broadwater Ward have really enjoyed meeting us and our patients as well as having the opportunity to become more directly involved in the care we provide.”

Talking today to so many of the staff I realise they have a real heartbeat for the person, and that they care for the person first. It has been a very moving day.

Trust Chief Executive Marianne Griffiths welcomed the festive visitors’ participation in the Let’s Do Lunch staff volunteer scheme.

She said: “I am delighted the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing, as well as our local MP, had the opportunity to gain a first-hand understanding of how our new dining companion scheme operates.

“Spending quality time on the wards is incredibly rewarding for both staff and patients, and personally I have found the experience very levelling.

“We launched Let’s Do Lunch a couple of months ago and dozens of non-frontline staff volunteered and are now receiving training to help our patients and provide companionship during lunchtimes.”

During their visit, the Mayor, Mayoress and MP for East Worthing and Shoreham also toured the Pathology Department at Worthing Hospital, and the new Emergency Floor which opened on 1 December, 2014.

Cllr Walker said: “Talking today to so many of the staff I realise they have a real heartbeat for the person, and that they care for the person first. It has been a very moving day.”

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