Free meals introduced for parents and carers of inpatients on children’s ward

Date: 06 December 2023

New paents and carers menu on Dolphin Ward

Food is now available free of charge for parents and carers staying with their child while they’re on the children’s ward at Medway Maritime Hospital, meaning they have one less thing to worry about.

Vidya Pundit-Dermody, Head of Nursing for Children’s Services, came up with the idea after talking to parents and carers during her ward rounds on Dolphin Ward and discovering that some hadn’t eaten, or were waiting for a partner, relative or friend to bring food in as they couldn’t afford to purchase a meal.

After working with the Catering Team, a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu has been introduced. Available each day, parents and careers can choose either the daily dish of the day, or one of the always available main courses - sandwich, jacket potato with fillings or a salad.

Vidya said: “At Medway, we take the health and wellbeing of our parents and carers just as seriously as their child’s and I was keen to ensure that we are at the forefront of being able to provide this initiative for our local community, especially as the hospital is based in a deprived area.

“I began speaking with Simon Clark, Senior Facilities Manager for Catering, who was on board with the idea from the beginning and worked with us to make it happen. It’s been really well received since we launched it a few weeks ago.”

The menus are available in each bed space on the children’s ward, and as part of a family-centred approach parents and carers are encouraged to eat with their child or they are welcome to use the parents’ room on the ward.

As well as meeting the national work around Sophie’s legacy, the menu also fits the caring domain of the Care and Quality Commission's (CQCs) Key Lines of Enquiry which guide and direct the CQC’s inspections of care services.

Vidya added: “Importantly, by providing parents and carers with a meal it is one less thing for them to have to worry about while their child is with us. As well as helping to improve their overall experience during their stay it also helps to build good relationships between them and our clinicians and ward staff. I’m extremely proud of the initiative and very grateful to Simon and the Catering Team for making it happen.”

Jayne Black, Chief Executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust which operates the hospital, said: “It’s a worrying time for parents and carers when their child is on a hospital ward. Their focus is on caring and looking after their child’s wellbeing but it’s just as important that they look after themselves too. By providing a food menu for them not only does it ensure they are getting the nutrition they need to stay well but also that they don’t have to leave their child’s bedside, which can be distressing for some children, in order to get a snack or meal.”

  • Summary:

    Food is now available free of charge for parents and carers staying with their child while they’re on Dolphin Ward, meaning they have one less thing to worry about.