Nursing, catering and housekeeping staff are working hard to improve the catering service on the children’s ward at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey. In a survey which took place last year patients and parents said they wanted to see a greater variety of food served up and more drinks and snacks available throughout the day.

Said Specialist Paediatric Dietician Catherine Casewell: “When children come into hospital their appetite often reduces but their nutritional requirements may be higher than usual as their body fights to get better. As parents know, it can be difficult to persuade children to eat sensibly when they feel well, so it’s even harder when they’re poorly. We’ve redesigned our menu to include more tempting choices, improved the way we serve food and ensured it’s always available when patients are hungry.”

Main courses now include popular dishes such as pasta bolognaise or breaded fish and chips and for pudding a choice of yoghurts, chocolate cake and fresh fruit are all available daily. If children don’t feel hungry or are out of the ward when the main meals are delivered, for example because they are having their operation, they can heat up a microwave ready meal, which are available on the ward, or take something from the designated snack fridge.

Another new addition is the snack trolley, which is manned by Ash Ward Housekeeper Alvin Asis and taken round twice a day so patients can grab a juice or milkshake, sandwich, biscuit or piece of fruit. Catherine adds: “For those children who require small, frequent meals or who prefer to graze between meals, they can choose something from the snack trolley. We really want to make it as easy as possible for children to eat when they feel hungry and keep their energy levels up.”

In the future, the team also hopes to create a separate eating area to encourage all children to eat together at a table laid with cutlery, cups and water jugs. Said Catherine: “We would like to offer the children a routine they are used to at home and also make mealtimes a more social occasion – after all, if children see other children eating they are more likely to follow suit themselves!”

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