Administrators venture into the wards to serve meals to patients.
It was 12.15pm when I walked into Ward 46 with sleeves rolled up and my hair up in a bun. I was joined by a colleague from HR. After putting on our “Meal Buddy Volunteer” tags, we followed two nurses to the food trolley. As they speedily laid out the food trays, we learnt what the acronyms meant. FM, or finely minced, refers to fruit/food that is blended. DM indicates fruit suitable for patients with diabetes.
The nurses handed us the trays to serve to the patients. Looking out for the bed number and name on the wall, I asked my first patient his name and IC number before placing the tray on the table. Although awkward and uncertain at first, I eventually got the hang of adjusting the tables and moving them into a comfortable position for the patients.
Time seemed to pass quickly, and I lost count of the number of times I had to sanitize my hands, check names and identification, and strike up conversations. Only 45 minutes had passed by the time we finished giving out all the trays. Once all the meal trays had been collected and deposited into the food trolley, I did one last check and headed back to my office at SingHealth Connection.
Lending a helping hand
Nurse Clinician Lee Yean, from Ward 46, hopes to see more staff coming forward to be a Meal Buddy as this programme helps patients needing assistance or encouragement with eating to receive nutrition in a timely and comfortable way.
She added that being unwell naturally affects patients’ appetite and some extra support and encouragement and the power of a friendly face and kindly words cannot be underestimated.
Nursing staff also appreciate the role of Meal Buddies for the support they provide in the care of the patients at the wards.
I felt more confident the second time around. By now, I am familiar with the various acronyms and able to lay out the fruits on each tray independently.
Most of the patients preferred to feed themselves if they could. A middle-aged patient’s hands shook as he poured himself water so I offered to help. Another elderly patient gladly welcomed my help to fetch him a straw, tissue and helping him to clean up his shirt from spills. As I popped in and out of the rooms topping up water and checking if anyone was done, a man waved me over. Despite not being able to speak, he smiled brightly as I greeted him and checked if he was ok.
In both volunteering stints, I was immensely relieved that I did not drop any food trays or serve the wrong meals to patients. Most importantly, I felt my lunchtime was well-spent doing my bit for our patients!
“I was a bit unsure at first and still unconfident about interacting with the patients due to language barriers, but today I fed a patient with physical disabilities and was somehow reminded that I will be taking care of my parents in their old age one day. It also reminded me that this process isn’t just about serving the food trays or clearing them, but the willingness to make that human connection to the patients.”
– Clare Sim, HR Development Executive
“You will never understand the work our nurses do at the ward until you have experienced it for yourself. I’m glad to play a small role as a Meal Buddy - by serving patients and feeding patients who require assistance.”
— Charlie Goh, Associate Executive, Communications
Want to volunteer your time and serve meals to our patients during lunch break? Join the Meal Buddies Workplace Group to find out more.
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