Volunteer as a mealtime companion

The trust is looking for volunteers to become mealtime companions.

Mealtime companions can make a real difference by encouraging patients to eat, serving meals and assisting patients and making it an enjoyable and social experience.

mealtime-companionsIan Fraser, an IT analyst at the trust, volunteered as a mealtime companion following the experience he had caring for his father.

He said: “My dad suffered from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He needed help with lots of things he couldn’t do himself. Staff in the ward were doing a fantastic job caring for patients but were often too busy to be able to dedicate the time to individual patients during mealtimes. It became part of my routine to visit the ward during meal service, helping my dad cut up his food and encouraging him to eat and drink.”

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

Ian said: “I know how helpful this is to ward staff – volunteers can make a real difference. We have more and more elderly patients in hospital and many of them need our assistance. Even just sitting there and having a chat with a patient can make the process of eating a much more pleasurable, especially those who are reluctant to eat or who take a long time to finish a meal. All volunteers play a vital part in helping to support our hospitals and improving patient care and we really appreciate everything they do.”

All mealtime companions get support and training and need no previous experience.

If you would like more information contact quality assurance nurse Sue Leather on 01642 624115 or quality assurance co-ordinator Louise Parkin on 01642 383938.

For more information about volunteering visit www.nth.nhs.uk/jobs/volunteer/

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