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Happy 5th birthday, Feeding Buddies!

21 March 2013


Southend Hospital chairman Alan Tobias and a host of nursing staff lined up to pay tribute to the ‘fantastic’ work of hospital’s red-tabarded Feeding Buddies at a celebration lunch to mark the 5th anniversary of the scheme starting on the wards.

The hospital now has more than 90 of the specially-trained volunteers who help and encourage frail and elderly patients to eat and drink up at mealtimes.

But it needs many more to lend a hand and support busy ward staff.

Helping to cut the birthday cake, Mr Tobias told the Buddies: "The care you give to patients and the help you give to our staff is inspirational. We cannot thank you enough."

Ward manager Andrea Turner came up with the idea of enlisting voluntary helpers back in 2007 after becoming concerned that her poorly patients weren't eating enough.

Andrea contacted voluntary services manager Christine Miller, who began a recruitment drive and the scheme was eventually born.

Two of the original Feeding Buddies, Mick Crane and Kathleen Lewis, are pictured here. "It's been an absolutely brilliant success," added Andrea.

The hospital is believed to have been the first Trust in the country to introduce such an initiative and has had enquiries from many other healthcare organisations interested in doing the same thing. "The role you play here makes us the envy of a lot of other hospitals I go to elsewhere, believe me," said catering manager Mick Hailey.

These volunteers receive full training and support from the hospital's nursing directorate.

Fiona Mowatt, Estuary ward manager, was just one of several senior nurses who made speeches praising the Buddies' contribution. "We are an extremely busy ward and you do an absolutely fantastic and marvellous job," she added.

The lunch took place in National Nutrition and Hydration week run by the campaign group Patient Safety First to reinforce and focus energy, activity and engagement on nutrition and hydration as an important part of patient safety improvement.

Interested in becoming a Buddy? Please contact Jane O'Connell or Chris Miller 01702 435555 ext 6135 for more details, email feedingbuddies@southend.nhs.uk