Food delivery for terminally ill people: Zoe Barber's Story

Author: Zoe Barber
Food delivery for terminally ill people: Zoe Barber's Story

Zoe Barber travelled to the USA in 2015 to research the role of food delivery in supporting terminally ill people.

The Fellowship

Zoe is a surgical registrar in South Wales. Her medical degree at Oxford University taught her the importance of nutrition in the context of health and illness but her clinical practice showed that there can be a lack of practical support and guidance for patients, particularly the terminally ill.

For her Fellowship, she travelled to Los Angeles to work with Project AngelFood, a not-for-profit organisation who provide more than 10,000 meals per week to the terminally ill. Set up in a church hall in 1989, they have since provided more than 10 million meals to the terminally ill, in their own homes, for free. This provides nutritional support at a frightening time for vulnerable people, significantly reducing hospice and hospital admission, and providing human comfort at a difficult time. It also reduces ‘meal-time conflict’, a common occurrence in palliative care settings where patients oppose the wishes of their loved ones to eat more, or differently.

Zoe spent seven weeks working with all aspects of Project AngelFood’s operation, including food preparation, logistics, food delivery and fundraising. She benefitted greatly from Project AngelFood’s 26 years of experience (and mistakes!).

The Results

Zoe returned to the UK inspired by the great work that Project AngelFood do and the importance of providing nutritional support to patients. She has been able to share her results with the medical community through publishing her Fellowship in the British Medical Journal and presenting at the annual conference of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. She has also met with the team in the Health and Social Services Department at the Welsh Government.

Her long-term aim is to set up a UK-based charity to offer free meals to those in medical need, which she has already begun to do.  In doing so, she has learned skills beyond her medical training that will benefit her patients and her future practice.

Read Zoe's report here

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