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Effects of a hospital ward eating environment on patients' mealtime experience: A pilot study


  • H.J. Hartwell, PhD, Assoc Prof Registered Nutritionist
  • P.A. Shepherd, PhD, Post Doc
  • J.S.A. Edwards, PhD, Professor of Food Service



This study focuses on a philosophy of providing ‘hospitality’ in a hospital setting, specifically an enhanced group dining environment from a ward operational perspective.


An eating environment, which offered an opportunity to create a group communitesque experience, was provided. Patients (n = 12, male = 6, female = 6) in recovery and rehabilitation stage were recruited from Orthopaedic wards at an Acute Care Hospital. They were given the opportunity to consume their meals together at tables that were covered with a table cloth and laid with cutlery, crockery, glasses, jugs of water and condiments. Interviews were conducted with ward staff and patient observations were collected in the form of field notes.


The research suggests that providing a group dining facility enables a more efficient, prompt and effective foodservice, while an ‘at-home’ environment is also welcomed by patients.


In hospital, patients have shared and common needs, interests and experiences. Creating a more home-like environment may provide an opportunity to promote feelings of belonging and togetherness, which, in turn, will support the rehabilitation process, while aiding pragmatic operational practice.

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