The Mayor of Worthing and the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham both participated in an innovative new staff volunteer scheme during a visit to Worthing Hospital on Christmas Eve.
Cllr Vic Walker, accompanied by the Mayoress Mrs Rosemary Walker, and Tim Loughton MP were invited to find out more about Let’s Do Lunch which helps patients benefit from dining companions while staying in hospital.
More than 80 non-medical staff employed by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Southlands, Worthing and St Richard’s hospitals, have volunteered to help older patients enjoy their meals at lunchtime.
“Let’s Do Lunch is a simple but brilliant idea,” said Mr Loughton. “There are people on the ward who really benefit from a bit of company and socialising, and lunchtime isn’t just about putting a plate of food in front of somebody, it’s about engaging with them and making sure they are OK.”
Lunchtime in the hospital is one of the busiest periods of the day for nurses and this can detract from patients receiving the encouragement they need to support their nutritional intake.
However, Let’s Do Lunch dining companions volunteer to give patients quality time and, once trained and vetted, they can also provide additional assistance to those in greater need.
Cllr Walker, who spent lunch on Broadwater Ward with 82-year-old Ray Hart from East Preston, said: “It is a great idea and another way to validate and care for the person. It was a real privilege for me to spend time with Ray today, just talking and sharing.”
Brian Alner, an 82-year-old patient from Henfield, was delighted to meet the Mayoress, saying: “I was absolutely staggered. The work that goes on here and the way in which this place runs is absolutely miraculous.”
Let’s Do Lunch not only benefits patients, but it is also rewarding for staff volunteers who, despite working for an acute trust, may not otherwise visit wards or often meet frontline colleagues.
During their visit, the Mayor, Mayoress and MP for East Worthing and Shoreham also toured the Pathology Department at Worthing Hospital, and the new Emergency Floor which opened on December 1st.
Cllr Walker said: “Talking today to so many of the staff I realise they have a real heartbeat for the person, and that they care for the person first. It has been a very moving day.”
Pictured: Mayor Vic Walker and Tim Loughton MP meet staff on Broadwater Ward while participating in Let’s Do Lunch staff volunteer scheme.