How do you handle meals for the familys? (Inpatient hospice)

  1. How does your facility handle feeding the families of your patients? There is a big debate going on at work right now. Causing major problems between nurses and kitchen staff. Let me make this VERY CLEAR, the families are all willing to pay for their meals. The kitchen will only make one extra meal for a patients room. In other words, if there are 4 family members visiting a patient there will still only be 2 meals made for that room. Doesn't matter if the patient is dying, doesn't matter if they just got admitted, we cannot even make up baskets of cookies and crackers to take into the room when they are dying - just coffee. Our director is backing the kitchen on this...not our MEDICAL director, the RN manager. We even had an RN get into trouble for giving out two small boxes of cereal to 2 young children that spent the night with their grandmother. I am just sick to death about this, with all the ruckas I am causing, will probably end up in BIG trouble. But, ya know, some fights I feel are worth it. Anyway, I bought cans of soup, crackers, a box of cereal and pudding cups into work. I posted a sign saying that the food was there and people were to help themselves to it, went back the next day and there were 7 signatures under mine. People asked me what I felt we could bring in ourselves (did I mention I LOVE my co-workers?) Called in tonight to talk to another lady to check on my patients from the last few nights and found out the director torn down the sign. HELP!!!!
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    About ShayRN, MSN

    Joined: Mar '04; Posts: 1,082; Likes: 2,527
    Hospice nurse; from US
    Specialty: 18 year(s) of experience in Corrections, Cardiac, Hospice


  3. by   aimeee
    We didn't have a unit long enough for it to really become an issue but it seems to me that this is a customer service issue. Evidently the kitchen finds the preparation of too many extra meals problematic. It seems like some sort of compromise is called for and they should be involved in coming up with a solution that works for everyone. Everyone needs to put their heads together to decide what CAN be done to comfort these families rather than what CANT.
  4. by   clemmm78
    We are a nine-bed stand alone residence. Our kitchen serves meals to the patients - whatever they would like - and *anyone* who is in the residence at mealtime is allowed to buy a ticket that gives them a meal. They can buy a light ticket for just toast and coffee or they can buy a full one for a full meal.
  5. by   cardsRN
    wow, this just seems mean. i'm not a hospice nurse, so my situation is different, but it seems like usually when there is a problem with pt family meals it all comes down to the $$. like people expect meals for their whole 10 person clan to be included in their room rate . and suprise! administration feels differently about that- so we get to be the bad guys that say no! but if your families are willing to pay, i don't see what all the fuss is about. is your kitchen not staffed to handle the increased demand perhaps?
  6. by   sissyboo
    When my grandmother was passing, the hospital explained that they couldn't give free meals to us, but that we were welcome to buy from the cafeteria. They did keep a cart in the room and would occasionally stock up with cookies, crackers, and coffee. In the morning they'd even come in with a few juice boxes. Even though none of this could make anything better, the gesture was very kind and appreciated.
  7. by   leslie :-D
    except for coffee, tea or juice, our facility didn't accomodate families.
    i found this ludicrous but then again, i'd suck as a businesswoman.
    what many of the staff did, was bring in cheese & crackers, yogurts, bread, peanutbutter and jelly and other non-perishables that didn't have an expiration date of 2099.
    often, the family members just wanted tea and toast.
    easy to give, easy to do.

  8. by   hospicenurse
    Our 16 bed inpatient unit provides meals to families for $4. We seldom get more than a couple of extra meals/wk to make - so it does not overburden our kitchen staff. We also have a dining area with tea, coffee, hot chocolate available at no cost. A local church group brings in a basket of snacks for families once a week. On occasion we have had caregivers staying with a loved one who have no transportation to go out for meals and seem to be really destitute. We have offered meals to those folks at no cost. Often they are reluctant to accept without paying.

    When we have large families visiting they often bring in their own food - we have had 30+ folks bring in covered dishes for their families and feed staff as well. Or armloads of pizza. Most families don't expect us to feed them, but the goodwill that is created by offering is priceless. However, as the manager of the unit, I can tell you that your RN manager is probably under a lot of pressure to control costs. If costs aren't managed carefully the carecenter could be out of business. And make no mistake, it is a business - it has to be to survive. Carecenters are very costly to operate. Managers truly appreciate staff who understand that, so use it to your advantage. Think about how/what might be improved to save money, and talk to your RN manager about it. If she sees that you are concerned and cost conscious, she will be much more willing to hear your opinion about the food issue. Play up the goodwill aspect about offering meals - it helps if your hospice has competition in the area. What are they doing? Are there local organizations who would like to help hospice by providing items that are needed? This is an excellent way to get things you need, plus it grows public awareness of hospice and builds community ties.

    Good luck.