I’ve been Hospiscare’s Chef Manager for over ten years and it’s incredibly important that patients get the choice of their favourite foods at the end of their lives.
Throughout the charity we treat every person as an individual, and this extends to their meal choices too. The duty chef visits the ward daily to talk through the menu with each patient to find out what they want to eat. If there’s nothing to tempt them, they can ask for whatever they fancy and we’ll provide it, even if it’s rib eye steak! All diets are catered for too, including vegan, gluten free or halal.
We buy local produce at every opportunity and know the traceability of all our ingredients. Patients’ meals are of the highest quality and a lot of attention is paid to presentation and meal size, since plates that look bland or are heaped high with food can be offputting if you have a small appetite.
We’re often asked by families for suggested meals to make for when people return home.
Most are tempted by comfort foods they used to eat years ago, like rice pudding or scrambled eggs. In fact, scrambled eggs are the reason I work for Hospiscare.
I began as an agency chef and there was a patient here who hadn’t eaten for over three weeks. I suggested she try some eggs and she agreed, “but only a couple of spoonsful”. So I made her three spoonsful of soft, buttery and creamy scrambled eggs and when she finished eating she looked at me and said, “That is the best scrambled egg I’ve ever had”. She died the same night, but it was so rewarding knowing that she left us feeling wonderful about her food again.
Food is available 24 hours a day. If the chefs know that you’ll need to eat outside kitchen hours, we’ll prepare a meal in advance so it’s ready for when you are. There’s also a kitchen on the ward and the clinical staff will happily serve yoghurt, beans on toast, a tuna sandwich, or fruit – just ask.