“Do other services encourage/permit shared/communal dining at mealtimes where staff and service users can sit and eat together. If so, what are peoples experiences of this? What benefits have been observed from this? Has it presented any challenges?”
Yes we do – only those staff on enhanced obs cannot eat at the same time as the patient as they need to be supporting the patient. Cygnet Bierley
Yes we regularly eat together, both formally and informally. We prepare food for community meetings which everyone tries.  We have themed months (chickpea month, veggie month), and star-rate the food on offer. Our ward is unusual as service-users can prepare their own food when they want.  There is a set time the cook-chill arrives, but patients who self-cater can prepare their food when it is convenient for them.  Staff will sit on main ward and eat food they have prepared at home, whilst chatting to patients who are eating at the time.  It’s a good way to get to know each other and learn about different kinds of food in general.  I can’t think of any negative points to this but will ask in today’s community meeting…. Asked everyone at our community meeting (patients and staff) about this issue.  They couldn’t find any bad points, and when I kept encouraging people to see if they could think of any they started getting suspicious that we were going to stop everyone eating together.  One of the patients turned around and stated, ‘don’t you want us to eat together anymore!!?’ The good points were: ‘it helps us get to know each other’ ‘if staff just stand and watch it feels rude’ ‘when staff and patients eat separately, then there are different rules, whereas when they eat together everyone has to respect the same rules’ (i.e. when and how cutlery are counted out, where you can eat). It encourages everyone to mark events together:  Christmas, Easter meals, Summer Barbeques’. Clifton House
Yes our patients and staff do dine together at times, and this has been actively encouraged. It promotes discussion, modelling social norms and enhances observations at high-risk times. In the years this has taken place there has been no adverse impact. Stockton Hall
We do encourage this dining experience here at Forest Lodge as it tends to build rapport and relationship with patients, as well as allow patient to see staff doing an everyday activity where they have both got an equal say. There has been challenges in the past however we have designed a SOP to ensure that all staff are aware of the procedures. The SOP covers things like – how many staff can actually have a meal with patient as we cannot afford for every staff to have a meal on duty. Forest Lodge, Respondent 1
We previously had this arrangement when we did the positive dining experience CQUIN work. Issues with waste management and cost of providing extra meals for staff have been a challenge, alongside covid in recent years. We have tried to look at this again recently but not sure issues around costs and waste management have been resolved. Newton Lodge
It is always a positive experience for both staff and patients. We limit to only staff who are supervising the meals times, which has in the past raised complaints by staff who are not being provided a meal. Otherwise, no issues. Forest Lodge, Respondent 2
We enable staff to eat with patients at mealtimes by providing a therapeutic meal. Problems have arisen when staff expect something that is not on the menu but that is rare. We have a SOP for this if required. Forest Lodge, Respondent 3
At the moment we don’t have collective mealtime, but that is mostly because the hospital does not provide subsidised food for the staff members. When mealtimes were shared in the past I think it was more positive between staff and patients, but I can’t really recall any of the negatives of the situation (other than occasionally there were complaints that the food was not allocated fairly).  The only challenge I can foresee from a risk perspective is that cutlery is accessed and therefore if there was tension between a patient and a member of staff this could be a ‘flash point’.  From memory over the years, we had joint mealtimes (in both low and medium secure) there was only one serious incident within the dining room. Cheswold Park