This week seemed to be all about food! I began on Monday by attending the annual Chertsey House Bake-off at St Peter’s, where I presented prizes to Dawn Cooper, Liz Davies and Margaret Broomfield for their fantastic bakes. It’s a great initiative, bringing staff together over a slice of delicious cake and also raised £216 for Victim Support. Thanks to Margaret Broomfield and Barbara Capaldi for organising this again.
This week is of course Nutrition and Hydration week and we’ve had a hospital wide focus on the importance of providing patients with the right nutritional support. Our Specialist Nurse for Nutrition Support, Nina Cron, has led a week-long series of events raising awareness with staff and patients and I’m sure you’ll have seen some of these advertised on Aspire.
Nutrition and Hydration week is a national awareness campaign, and we began our week with a study day for nursing colleagues which included a presentation from Becky Bushby our VTE nurse on the importance of hydration in preventing blood clots. Did you know that dehydration increases the risk of blood clotting due to an increase in viscosity, making the blood “sticky” and “sluggish”? So keeping patients well hydrated is really important. We then took our awareness raising out onto the wards, promoting our mealtime volunteers on Tuesday and then celebrating World Afternoon Tea on Wednesday. I’ve not been well this week so haven’t been able to join the team on the wards, but I know our Chairman Aileen McLeish really enjoyed handing out tea and cupcakes and, importantly chatting to patients and making the event into a social occasion.
Yesterday we also put on some patient meal tasting for staff and visitors including a fun ‘name the fruit & veg’ quiz. The winner will receive a bottle of champagne from our catering partners, OCS, and I’d like to add our thanks to OCS and the team for supporting our campaign this week.
Making sure our patients get the right nutrition to support recovery is important of course, but it’s not just about nutrition. This week has reminded me that enjoying a meal and a drink with other people is part of how we engage and have fun in our everyday lives. In hospital we can be drawn into looking at this very scientifically – the science is important – but we also need to humanise it and make sure that patients also get the benefit of social integration. That’s why our mealtime volunteers are so important. As well as helping patients and making sure they are eating and drinking, the social side – chatting and laughing – is equally important and definitely helps recovery.
On Tuesday evening I joined colleagues at the St Patrick’s Day celebration, another fun evening organised by our new Social Committee in the PostGrad education centre at St Peter’s. We divided into teams for a light-hearted quiz on all things Irish, and were served traditional Irish stew, soda bread and Guinness. Again, the importance of socialising, eating and drinking with colleagues, plays an important part in our wellbeing. And it’s a great way to get to know colleagues better and have some fun. Look out for the next one!
Earlier this week we said goodbye to an extremely valuable member of the team, Associate Director of Nursing Kate Eidens, who has decided to retire after a long career at Ashford & St Peter’s. I’m sure you will join me in wishing Kate all the very best for her retirement. I’d like to say a personal thank you Kate for all your hard work on behalf of our patients and for being such a fantastic member of the team. Thank you. And how did we celebrate? By eating cake and then going to the pub of course!
Supporting the health and wellbeing of staff was also the subject of an article in the Careers Section of the British Medical Journal this week, (online and in print), contributed to by Louise McKenzie, our Director of Workforce Transformation where she describes some of our wider culture and wellbeing activities. Have a read here.
With all this talk of eating and drinking, I haven’t forgotten that we recently announced our proposal to close the Foodhouse Restaurant at Ashford Hospital. I recognise this will be disappointing news to many of you and I appreciate the importance of having somewhere to eat and relax with colleagues – it’s an important part of our wellbeing as I’ve mentioned. But, with dropping customer numbers it’s simply not viable to continue to keep the restaurant running as it is. We want to continue to expand services for patients at Ashford and this large space, which is not being used to capacity, could be utilised for bigger clinical services supporting our development of Ashford Hospital.
As an alternative I want to make sure we expand the food on offer at our other two catering outlets at Ashford – the Retreat in the main entrance and the café in Outpatients – and improve the staff rest area which is close to the current restaurant. So we have a bit more time to hear from you, we are postponing the closure of the restaurant until the end of April.
Have a great weekend and I hope you have the opportunity to do some socialising outside work time too.
With very best wishes,