Older patients returning home after treatment at Worthing Hospital are leaving with new “welcome home packs”, containing a sandwich, milk, fruit and some other basic foodstuffs.
The aim is to help frail and isolated patients be more comfortable on their first night back in their own home, making sure they have easy access to fresh food and drink.
Rita Philips, 90 from Storrington, was one of the first recipients of the new packs when she was discharged after a five week stay at Worthing Hospital.
“When we asked they said they were worried about what they will have to eat when they return to an empty house”
She said: “It’s like Christmas has come early. It is marvellous – it’s never been done before and whoever came up with it deserves a medal.”
The idea came from a regular Patient First programme meeting held at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where staff discussed how to further improve services for patients.
Katrina O’Shea, a matron at the trust, said: “We’re dealing with a very elderly population at Worthing Hospital and often they are very proud and do not tell us what they need.
“However, when we asked they said they were worried about what they will have to eat when they return to an empty house, where fresh food will have gone off and the cupboards may be bare,” she said.
The packs provide frail and isolated patients enough food and drink to ensure they do not have to worry about their first 24 hours back in the comfort of their own home.
The contents are being provided by Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose supermarkets in Worthing, after the trust’s lead governor, volunteer Margaret Bamford, lobbied them for support.
She said: “I am extremely grateful and proud that these four giant commercial operators are acting together for our single cause to make the discharge of local elderly people living on their own a better experience.”
The Welcome Home Packs project is being piloted at Worthing Hospital before the scheme is rolled out to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.