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Cuppa conundrum: should nurses make tea for patients’ visitors?

Nursing student Freda sparked debate on social media when musing over tea-making etiquette on her clinical placements

Nursing student Freda sparked debate on social media when musing over tea-making etiquette on her clinical placements

To tea or not to tea: that is the question.

A simple act of kindness or a waste of time?

For new nursing students learning the ropes of patient care, offering someone a cuppa is a good place to start. But when it comes to their relatives and visitors, should nurses offer up tea and coffee to them too? Or are hot beverages only reserved for the patients on your watch?

University of Salford nursing student Freda pondered the question on social media and caused quite the stir.

Nursing student Freda sparked debate on social media when musing over tea-making etiquette on her clinical placements

Nursing student Freda sparked debate on social media when musing over tea-making etiquette on her clinical placements
Picture: Alamy

To tea or not to tea: that is the question.

A simple act of kindness or a waste of time?

For new nursing students learning the ropes of patient care, offering someone a cuppa is a good place to start. But when it comes to their relatives and visitors, should nurses offer up tea and coffee to them too? Or are hot beverages only reserved for the patients on your watch?

University of Salford nursing student Freda pondered the question on social media and caused quite the stir.

She asked: ‘When doing the tea round, do you offer family members? I always do, but notice others don't.

‘I understand that time constraints and stock don't always allow, but I believe happy and hydrated family members are important for patient recovery.’

Fellow nursing student Liv Comley responded that she’d always found a cup of tea is ‘a comfort in a sterile and unfamiliar environment for patients’ families’.

She added: ‘I know at my hospice placement it meant so much to the families in a terribly fragile place waiting at their loved ones’ side.’

While most nurses wholeheartedly agreed that they always try to offer a cup of tea to everyone, others said it is not always possible in some care settings.

One nurse said: ‘Dependent on area… not very feasible in A&E and possibly not appropriate in a short stay ward setting when it’s a high turnover and lots of tasks, but when it’s end of life or long-term patients it’s a different story. Also important to check guidelines regarding open-topped hot liquid.’

An opportunity to build relationships

With Britain famous for its love affair with the cuppa, delivering a hot drink to a patient is a great opportunity to engage in conversation, check in with how they are feeling and keep them hydrated.

The same is equally true for a family member, helping build relationships and support between staff and loved ones.

But other nurses said they had been told they were not allowed by managers – although the reasons for this were unclear.

One nursing student added: ‘Depends what is happening for the family at the time. On some wards I have been told I am not allowed to offer tea to family members.’

Most nurses agreed, however, that the tea bag is a sign of unity and should be celebrated.

One nurse said: ‘I do. I think that a little bit of kindness with a teabag and hot water makes all the difference.’


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