Nurse in hospice

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Food at the end of life

Wednesday 20 Dec 2023

At this time of year, many of us are thinking about what dishes we're going to share with our loved ones over the festive season. We talk to Sam Sherwood, our Head Chef, about the love and care that goes into every single meal he prepares for our patients.

"You know that those few moments left are being made better by good food so that's what we try and do every day and it's very humbling and very very fulfilling. It's definitely the most fulfilling job I've ever had and it's really enjoyable and the staff here are fantastic, it's a pleasure to cook for them as well as the patients and the families that come in."

"At the end of life a lot of people won't eat too much so we try and keep the portions a little smaller so there's a nice little size of portion, we don't want to overwhelm them with the food. It's like one of my chefs said the other day, we don't know which of their meals is going to be the last one because they can go downhill very rapidly. They can be eating really well when they first come in and then we don't know which is going to be their last meal so we just have to make or try and make every meal as good as we possibly can and hopefully we achieve that."

"Food brings back a lot of memories from childhood and it's an important part of a lot of people's lives. It's like I say, memories of food take you back to a certain place and a time in your life and happier times. The most memorable moment we had an Italian guy in who was he was a chef and it was his birthday we don't have many birthdays unfortunately but it was his birthday and I made him a cake, wrote his name on it, happy birthday and everything. We took it into his room and he started crying and his wife was crying and it was really quite an emotional moment but it was lovely and I'll always remember that, so it's moments like that that are really really nice and important for them, the family, it's really nice."

"We do whatever we can for the patients. If they want something in particular even a particular kind of biscuit I'll get on my motor bike and go and get it. If they want a lobster for lunch then that's what we do. We try not to say no, we hardly ever say no, so it's whatever we can do. It's those last moments that they're here we want to make the best moments that we possibly can so that's why we're here and that's what we do."