Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust seek Dining Companion Volunteers!

What is a Dining Companion?

A dining companion is a volunteer who sits with a patient on a one to one basis and provides assistance to help them eat.  As well as helping the patient with eating, the dining companion can chat to the patient and encourage them to eat.  They keep nursing staff informed about what the patient has eaten and whether the patient has enjoyed their food.

 The Problem

In 2006, AGE UK produced a document called Hungry to be Heard as part of a national campaign to increase standards within all hospitals.  Hungry to be Heard provided a seven step improvement plan for hospitals to ensure elderly patients received better care and attention during mealtimes. 

Often elderly patients need some assistance with cutting up their food, holding utensils etc., and there is a risk they may become malnourished if they don’t have the support they need.  Malnourishment increases the risk of infection and can significantly increase recovery time. 

The Solution

The Trust operates a ‘Red Tray Scheme’ and volunteers are placed on wards to assist with menus, mealtimes, drinks and other social duties such as chatting to patients to alleviate the boredom and loneliness that can be experienced whilst staying in hospital.  Patients who are identified by staff as requiring additional support at mealtimes will have their food served on a ‘Red Tray’.  Ward staff and volunteers then ensure help is given with the meal.  This is vital to some patients who do not receive any visitors and could be lonely or anxious or may be suffering from a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

Becoming a Volunteer

Volunteers go through an application process including a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check and Health Assessment Check.  They will be invited for an interview and if they are successful, will be recruited as a volunteer at Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust. 

The process is kept as informal as possible as good communication skills are vital in the volunteer role and it’s important for the applicants to feel comfortable. 

If you would like any further information, please contact Chris Pilkington on 01704 704955 or email chris.pilkington@nhs.net