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When was the last time you felt able to have a cup of tea with a patient?


There is no doubt that spending time with patients is beneficial to everyone, but is sitting down and having a drink with your patient culturally acceptable in your place of work? Maria Davison thinks it should be


Tea: the British cure for everything

If you have a good day, you put kettle on

If you have a bad day, you put the kettle on


Community nurse Maria Davison reached boiling point when, working up and down the county, she was routinely quizzed by staff for having a cup of tea with a patient.

“I’m fed up of being asked: ‘What are you doing?’ when what I’m actually doing is using my common sense,” she says.

#CuppaCare is a patient-centred initiative, started by Ms Davison and her partner Gavin Sykes, to draw attention to this grey area in nursing practice. “There are pockets of the country that allow it, and pockets that don’t, so nurses don’t know if they should, even when they can see that it would be a useful thing to do, ” says Ms Davison.

So, she launched the #CuppaCare campaign, backed by NHS Change Day, which aims to bring consistency and clarity to the rules and to promote permission for nurses to have a drink with a patient should the situation benefit from doing so.

What are the benefits?

According to Ms Davison, the benefits of having a cup of tea with a patient, despite it costing nothing, are vast because, as the research says: “taking time to have a drink with a patient in a familiar manner, that is socially acceptable, welcoming, homely and routine, allows for enhanced outcomes and a better patient experience”.

The benefits of CuppaCare include:

  • increased respect and trust
  • patients opening up to nursing staff
  • an increased sense of patient value and worth, improving mood all round
  • better hydration as a result of patients being engaged and encouraged to drink
  • combating feelings of loneliness, isolation and vulnerability.

#CuppaCare advocate Matron Glyn Wildman, Dementia lead at Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said: “Having a cuppa with our patients is something which has been supported and discussed within our dementia training over the last two years. We will continue to promote this sensible person-centred approach to care within our qualified dementia training.”

Ms Davison further explains that the “we don’t have time” argument is swamped by examples of time saved and problems solved: “Within five minutes you go from being just another busy person walking around in a uniform, to being a nurse with a name. The benefits are immediate and obvious.”

What are the implications for nurses?                                              

According to Ms Davison, the CuppaCare campaign is not about putting more pressure on over-stretched staff: “I’m not saying that nurses have to spend their break with the patients. It’s good to leave the area sometimes. We need that. That’s our right.”

Instead, CuppaCare is about giving nurses the permission and, therefore, the choice. “We are adult professionals. When the situation arises, we should be allowed to use our instincts to do what any compassionate human being would do. Everybody should have #Permission2Brew.”

Get involved

If you would like to show support for CuppaCare - Ms Davison’s NHS Changeday pledge - post pictures of your cups (or anything tea related) on twitter @CuppaCare using the #Permission2Brew, #Time4T and #SKOL hashtags.

Go on - Stick Kettle On Love! #SKOL


Readers' comments (8)

  • This is something I do fairly often A) because I like drinking coffee and B) I like talking to the residents of the nursing home I am the manager for.The actual sharing the enjoyment of having a drink together over a chat makes for a closer relationship and this helps me find out what makes people tick and how to design plans of care.

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  • not allowed to have a cup of tea on the ward, nurses were banned from drinking tea on the wards on account of it appearing lazy, sad state of affairs when we aren't allowed to sit down a have a chat with pateints, never mind having a cuppa

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  • I agree Anon,its good for patients to see us doing normal things,it helps them to trust us.

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  • michael stone

    Discussed something similar re home care for the elderly on Dignity In Care:

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  • tea would be better than taking smoking breaks with MH patients and leaving the non-smokers feeling totally left out!

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  • Completely support the idea that a cup of tea and 15 minutes of my time as a nurse can make such a difference - not at all unprofessional, just a very human and familiar gesture when it probably most counts for patients.

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  • wish somebody would take ms off somewhere for a quiet cup of tea with a pile of magazines and comics to keep him occupied with his commentary!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 26-Mar-2015 7:25 am

    You will be pleased to know that I am currently being 'distracted' somewhat from NT: only the internet, could allow me to be having an 'argument' (if you prefer, debate or disagreement) [about the 'meaning' of the Montgomery ruling] with a doctor in Australia, on theBMJ, and almost in real-time !

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