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Family kitchen warms the tummies of patients and families living with cancer

13 June 2019

A passion project suggested by patients and championed by staff of Cancer Services has delivered a new Patient and Family Kitchen in Queensland’s busiest cancer treatment area at Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).

Prompted by patient survey feedback to create a home-like solace for patients and family members during a long day filled with multiple appointments, therapies and treatments, the breakout area is a welcome space to have a cuppa or simply spend time in between treatments.

By commandeering an existing uninspired and underused kitchen space, the new space was furnished with better equipment, safety features and treats donated by generous sponsors and individual donations resulting in a sanctuary for outpatients.

Cancer Services Nurse Manager, Sue Schoonbeek, engaged 78 cancer patients and their families through an informal survey to find a way the team could better assist them during their day treatment visits.

“We asked our patients to dream big and tell us what would make their lives easier while coming to and from hospital for chemotherapy and other treatments,” she said.

“The response was just simple things; somewhere to make a cup of coffee or have a bowl of soup in between appointments without the expense of the coffee shop,” she said.  

Patient, John Purcell, said having the space is a blessing on treatment days.

“Driving from Redland Bay, I have to leave home at 5.30am and sometimes won’t return home until 6.30pm after having treatment so having a comfortable space where I can take five is invaluable.

“The expenses can add up with parking, coffee and meals so having somewhere that provides some free snacks and a hot coffee offers of bit of relief,” he said.

Staff and even patients are giving back to the kitchen, putting a box of soups in the cupboard or some teabags in the drawer when they can.

“Our patients tell us they are inviting people and their families from all over the hospital down to come and enjoy the space which is what makes it special for us,” said Sue.  

“We can’t be confined by what healthcare should look like but instead be motivated by what it can look like through small acts of kindness such as this.”

The Family Kitchen commenced in July 2018 and forms part of the gold standard cancer service delivery by PAH.  Cancer Services Outpatients and Day Therapy space provides approx. 5000 outpatient appointments and 1300 day therapies every month.

Last updated 14 June 2019
Last reviewed 13 June 2019

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