01st June 2016 Written by Skills for Health

To celebrate International Children’s Day on June 1st, Skills for Health and National Skills Academy have launched a weeklong celebration to honour our children’s health heroes, giving everyone a chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who work in paediatric care – whether they’re volunteers, cleaners, postmen or chefs.

Food Glorious Food

There’s plenty going on behind the scenes at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in particular in the kitchens where it takes an extra special team of support workers to keep everyone fed and watered; patients, families and staff alike.

Image: Paula Walsh.Say ‘Hello’ to Paula!

Meet Paula Walsh; she has been a part of the catering department at Alder Hey for 16years and has grown up with her team. Paula juggles three roles in her job as a catering assistant; working inside the kitchen cleaning and washing up and working front of house in the restaurant serving staff and families. She can also be found serving refreshments in Alder Hey’s recently opened Institute in the Park.

Paula said: “Working in such a busy environment there’s never time to be bored! I really enjoy being part of the kitchen team and love providing a service to people; it’s not just about medical care within a hospital.

“We can be here for the whole family when their child in unwell and it’s a privilege when parents come to let you know how their child’s condition is coming along.”

Image: Tom Knight.Introducing Tom Knight

Tom is one of the ward based chefs; part of a brand new initiative introduced at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in which particular wards have a chef dedicated solely to providing their meals. Tom helps to provide a food on demand service to young patients on Ward 4C.

With 35 years of experience under his belt, Tom has been able to adapt his culinary skills to ensure young patients can eat nutritious food which also meets their dietary needs.


The Bare Necessities

Tom’s ward kitchen is always busy preparing and cooking lunches and evening meals each day for patients and breastfeeding. Tom will also provide food outside these time slots depending on the patient’s requirements.

He said: “Preparing the children’s food on the ward provides me with the opportunity to have one-to-one interaction with patients and their families so I can understand their needs and prepare food that will actually be eaten.

“Some of our patients have serious eating difficulties so I let them know I’m there to help; once I’ve built up trust with the patients I can start providing food that I know they will take. For these children and young people, food is really their medicine and it’s important we get it right.

“I hope that the ward based kitchens model we have at Alder Hey’s becomes possible across the NHS because it’s already making a difference to our patients and their families.”

Tom and Paula are two of hundreds of health heroes that work behind the scenes in children’s hospitals across the UK.During our Paediatrics Week and International Children’s Day celebrations we will be honouring these healthcare support workers and the vital roles they play in our children’s paediatric care.

To get involved or just to find out what we have been up to you can follow the updates here: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ourhealthheroes

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