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(back l-r) Red Recruitment Lincoln branch manager Ashleigh Bolton and St Barnabas Hospice Hotel Services Manager Wayne Banks (front l-r) Cooks Diane Jackson and Carrole Giles

Hospice managers and staff managers said they were immensely proud of continuing to serve “bespoke meals” bursting with fresh Lincolnshire produce throughout the challenging Coronavirus pandemic.

St Barnabas Hospice, which welcomed two new cooks earlier this year, have been producing up to 99 meals a day for people at their inpatient unit on Nettleham Road, Lincoln, depending on occupancy rates and individual patient needs.

Hotel Services Manager Wayne Banks explained that patients, who may enter the hospice for respite, pain relief or for a “final time,” have widely varying needs and he praised hospice cooks Carrole Giles and Diane Jackson for their ongoing determination to produce tasty meals.   

At the same time, Carrole and Diane told how they had initially joined the charity on a temp to permanent basis, through Lincoln headquartered Red Recruitment 24:7. They were delighted when  their roles were made permanent after three months earlier this year. 

Wayne said:  “We provide an all-year-round service to people in our Inpatient Unit, including breakfast, lunch and tea-time meals. 

“We are proud to have managed to do that throughout the pandemic and to have used local suppliers. It can be challenging because our meals are bespoke and tailored to a patient’s individual needs.  That means we must cater for multiple dietary requirements. 

“It’s a steep learning curve for staff because, in addition to serving standard meat, fish and vegetarian meals, we cater for diabetics, people who need gluten-free foods, patients with dysphagia (swallowing issues) and those whose diets may be restricted due to the medication they are taking.

“Carrole and Diane were recruited during the pandemic and adapted well to our system of working in the hospice.  They have also developed new meal ideas and introduced to the menu for both patients and staff.”

Pre-Covid the hospice also provided catering services for patients using its Hawthorn Road Day Centre, but this was suspended due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Carrole, who has been cooking for 15 years, used to work at a county hotel which closed. She responded to an advertisement for a cook at St Barnabas and now works a flexible 26 hours a week.  

“I really enjoy making individual dishes for our patients and I want them to enjoy every mouthful,” she said. 

Interestingly, colleague Diane – formerly head cook in a care centre – was signposted to her job by Carrole who lives over the road from her!  That nudge came at just the right time.  She now works nearly 20 hours a week at St Barnabas. 

“I particularly enjoy tempting patients with highly nutritious meals, which are prepared to suit their individual needs,” said Diane. 

Let’s get cooking:  (l-r) Cooks Carrole Giles and Diane Jackson get busy in the kitchen

The Hospice is proud to have been awarded a five-star hygiene rating by the City of Lincoln Council. 

Fundraising initiatives are always welcomed.  Money raised supports all the charity’s day-to-day running costs.  Meals-wise £5.10 pays for a three-course meal for a patient receiving specialist care and £7.82 covers the cost of a Christmas Dinner. 

Red Recruitment 24:7 Lincoln Branch Manager Ashleigh Bolton said: “Carol applied for a job through us first and soon afterwards signposted Diane to us. They started off on a temp to permanent basis and we were thrilled when they were made permanent.  We showed our appreciation by presenting them with certificates and gift vouchers.

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