Ward Hostess Gifty Brobbey preparing food

As a Ward Hostess on Horder Ward in Chelsea, I’m responsible for ensuring that patients undergoing palliative care are fed and have refreshments. As soon as I arrive in the morning, I make cups of tea for patients and change their water jugs.

Then I prepare breakfast, which means I go from Horder Ward on the fifth floor of Granard House down to the kitchen – on some days, I’m constantly in and out of the lift. I make sure I introduce myself to new patients on the ward. They can be nervous initially, but after a while we get to know each other and I soon learn their preferences.

Dishing up the best

As soon as breakfast is finished and cleared away, I give each patient a lunch menu and discuss it with them to encourage healthy eating. There are a lot of options on the menu, which means that I will sometimes be cooking 12 different dishes at the same time. We serve a three-course meal of a starter, a main and a dessert.

It’s really important that patients eat well. If someone asks me for a smaller portion, just a spoonful for example, I’ll give them a spoon and a half – and I usually get a clean plate back. Or, even if a patient doesn’t request any vegetables, I make sure there are some included on their plate if their diet allows it.

I also like to present the meals nicely to whet their appetite. You eat with your eyes, so food has to look appetising.

Extra touches

Between every meal, I offer the patients a cup of tea. I usually have a stock of snacks, such as jelly and custard or cheese and biscuits, as a lot of people ask for them between meals. I also make sure that the dayroom is well stocked for patients and relatives.

In the afternoon, I provide tea and also hand out the menus for dinner that evening and the next day’s breakfast. I always try to personalise my approach to each patient. If someone wants their meals at a different time, I’ll do everything I can to provide it earlier or later.

If a patient requests a specific food, I may not be able to get it that very day, but I’ll try to make it for them as soon as I can. I don’t just see my job as simply serving food, though – it’s part of the wider patient care we provide at The Royal Marsden. Here, the patient always comes first, and I am proud of that.

I enjoy interacting with everyone, and offer support to patients, their relatives and my colleagues. If I see a family has just been given some bad news, I’ll pop my head in and offer a silver service tea. I’ve been working for The Royal Marsden for 13 years and was so happy to win an Our Health Heroes Award last year. It really makes me feel like I’m making a difference.