Delivering care and comfort through great food

We’re so proud of our Catering Team who lovingly create delicious meals for our patients at the hospice. Working tirelessly around the clock, our caterers prepare an amazing selection of nutritious, homemade comforting meals to keep patients’ spirits high and their strength up. Our caterers play such a vital role in helping us deliver the highest level of care, support and comfort to people with life limiting illnesses across South Devon.

Putting 100% effort into everything that they do, the team prepare meals, snacks and refreshments with great care and passion – in the same way that families do at home. Rowcroft’s fabulous hospitality volunteers assist the Catering Team by delivering the meals and drinks to patients; and together they ensure that everyone is left feeling content. In this fascinating blog, Dave Whiting, Rowcroft’s Catering Team Manager, reveals what goes on behind the scenes in Rowcroft Hospice’s kitchen. He shares a unique insight into the passion that drives the team, and enlightens us on how they have managed to push through the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although it doesn’t look like we have enormous numbers of patients to cater for, we take everyone’s individual catering needs into consideration,” says Dave. “There are foods that individuals just do not like; and some people have special dietary requirements – for example, they may be vegetarian or vegan.

“We cater for our lovely patients and we also cater for their loved ones too. Sometimes relatives and friends will stay with patients throughout the day or night, and we always like to ensure that they have been well fed too. Alongside this, we cater for as many employees as possible each day and we also cater for our volunteers if they need this too. We average around 15 to 20 employee meals per day. Our nurses and clinical staff have shifts around the clock so their meal-times can very. We are a busy team with lots to do, but we love it!

“At the beginning of the pandemic, when PPE was just beginning to be rolled out, we didn’t have a lot, so we found that really difficult. It was hard on us as we are a small team and a few employees were taken off from working around the IPU (Inpatient Unit) as they were in categories that meant they needed to self-isolate. But thankfully we have a great connection with the Rowcroft Retail Team, who have an amazing group of volunteers and employees that definitely know their way around the kitchen! They kindly offered their time to our team and filled all of the gaps that had opened up. We cannot thank those people enough for their help throughout the first three or four months of the pandemic. It was such a pleasure to meet those people and have their help; they really were amazing.”

Working behind the scenes in the kitchen is something that our wonderful Catering Team take in their stride. But when they are able to spend time on the ward with our patients and families, they are reminded of how special and appreciated their food is to the people who need it.

“One particular moment that stands out for me is when a patient once said to me, ‘don’t underestimate yourself or what you do,’” explains Dave. “She continued to tell me that ‘being able to come in here and order anything I’d like at any time of the day is unbelievable.’ When you get feedback like that from a patient, it really does make you step back and think wow, we really are making a difference. That makes our whole team feel very proud of what we do.

“For so many patients, we succeed in transforming their relationship with food – they go from eating nothing when they first arrive, to subsequently eating healthy portions of home-cooked meals. This really helps them feel more comfortable and not so afraid. Their families tell us how much they love seeing their loved one eat well again, and they really enjoy being able to come to the kitchen to tell us what their loved ones’ favourite meals are, so that we can cater for them in the same way that they would be looked after at home.

“We are so lucky to have Rowcroft Hospice in our community. I don’t think that you could end up in a better place. We are delighted to hear from patients and relatives about how lucky they feel to have this resource and how wonderful the whole package of Rowcroft is. I feel very proud to know that our patients’ minds are at rest because their meals are good; you can’t buy that!

“I feel so privileged to be part of the entire Rowcroft team, and equally as proud to be part of the Catering Team – as one of the many cogs that keeps the machine running smoothly. I try my best to look after my team and they look after me too. The whole team have worked so tirelessly throughout this very difficult year and I will be forever grateful for this. It’s an honour to be a part of the team, and their skills and hard work amaze me everyday; they continue to make me so proud.”

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