Dignity in Care Award 2009 - Regional Winner - London Region
Updated on 21/10/2009
The 2009 Health and Social Care Award for Dignity in Care - London region award went to:
Chris Took, Catering Manager
Congratulations to Chris Took and his team who are the winners of the 2009 Peoples Award for Dignity in Care!
Chris Took knows about the importance of good food. The chef has transformed meal times for terminally-ill patients at the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.
Choice is the magic ingredient. Chris tailors his menus for each individual patient, taking note of dietary requirements and people's preferences.
When he joined the hospice eight years ago, he made the unconventional move of leaving the kitchen to chat to patients and families about their meals. Chris understood how anxious families become when patients refuse to eat, and wanted to do as much possible to allay their fears. He felt it was impossible to prepare a plate of food not knowing the patient or the family who would be eating it.
Since then Chris has trained teams of volunteers who serve the meals. They have learned the importance of good presentation, knowing each patient's preferences and double-checking each tray before it goes out. They know, for example, that metal spoons should not be given to cancer patients as chemotherapy gives them an unpleasant taste. Plastic ones are better.
Chris also prepares meals for family celebrations - a home-cooked meal for family members and a fruit smoothie for the patient if they can no longer manage solid food.
The chef has been highly praised for his efforts. He and his smoothies were the subject of a recent article in the Times. Clinical staff recognise the important role he plays in improving the quality of patients' lives and marvel at how he can get a reluctant patient to eat again. For the patients, knowing that food has been prepared with such care and close attention to detail brings peace of mind.
The runner up for the award was:
Marlborough Family Education Centre
Marlborough Family Education Centre in London has found a novel use for heart rate monitors, normally used in sports training, for child and family therapy to help children at risk of exclusion from school identify triggers to problem behaviour.
The Hearts on their Sleeves project relies on the information generated by a belt worn around the child's chest which wirelessly transmits data to a wristwatch-type monitor. An alarm alerts the child to a rising heart rate which helps him or her identify triggers for violent or aggressive outbursts or mood swings.
They were initially introduced as some children understand the anger cycle identified in traditional 'talking cures' but find it hard to put into practice. The monitors are an early warning system that then allows children to put into practice other defusal methods. The information from the monitors helps the team build up an in-depth picture of trigger points.
Such 'biofeedback' techniques have been used for conditions such as headaches, epilepsy, digestive disorders and high and low blood pressure. This is the first time that they have been used in a therapeutic and school setting. It is said they can provide individuals with a kind of sixth sense, or an extra window into their bodies and minds.
Twenty-nine pupils and their parents have participated in a pilot project so far at the Westminster-based centre, which works with children with high-level emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Parents and teachers report that the monitors have increased children's self-control. One parent said: "The heart rate monitors served as a reminder about how children may be calm on the outside of their body, but on the inside it may be a different story altogether."