Sian Williams Deputy Director of Nursing at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Our catering team are without doubt real unsung heroes at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
We pride ourselves on having a strong sense of community and compassion in everything we do. The catering team embody these core values with staff that are exceptionally motivated, enthusiastic and always searching for ways to make what is already a treasured service even better.
The extensive menu gives so much choice – five hot and cold options at lunch and four at dinner – and this variety provides the home comforts that make people smile at a difficult time. We are very fortunate that while some Trusts have had to scale back, we continue to offer patients two freshly prepared bespoke hot meals a day made from high-quality local ingredients.
It’s the team’s creativity and meticulous attention to detail that allows them to go over and above the call of duty whilst staying within budget. They really have done the most amazing work for both patients and staff.
Chicken curry Tuesdays have become legendary among our employees, while the commitment to giving every patient a hot meal means the kitchen re-opens to call backs at all times.
They boost clinicians by making it possible for patients to have dinners in the discharge lounge if appropriate – also providing food for carers if needed. This means when a doctor says someone can go home after lunch they can eat in a more relaxing environment, which in turn enables our team to prepare that bed space for someone else.
There is a commitment to caring for patients that goes beyond our walls as well, with packed lunches available for those being transferred elsewhere and parcels of essentials for some patients to take home.
Given all these strings to their bow – with around 2,500 meals being prepared, cooked and delivered every day – it would be reasonable for the team to stay closed off in the kitchen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
They frequently visit wards, aiming to answer queries within 30 minutes for patients with extra special dietary requirements. A number of initiatives have also been created to make eating at the Countess more inclusive, with full pictorial menus and dementia-friendly crockery making a real difference.
When a patient recently celebrated her 100th birthday here the team sent cupcakes to the ward, while on the hottest day of the year they sent round free lolly ices to help everyone cool down.
This year for the first time the team is planning for all mothers to enjoy a sit-down meal on the wards with their children on Mother’s Day.
These sound like simple touches, but they make the world of difference when people are stuck in hospital.
I couldn’t be more proud of our catering team. As the rest of our hospital looks for ways to both improve services and become more efficient they are a beacon to follow. They are truly a great credit to the Countess, the NHS and the catering industry as a whole.