Hospitality is all about making people feel welcome, at home and comfortable. It prompts them to feel safe, at ease and relaxed. More commonly it is associated with food and its ability to make us feel full, cosy and loved, and for Trudy Beckwith, a cook at St John of God Berwick Hospital café, it’s a value that she’s entrusted to exude on a daily basis.
But despite providing hospitality as part of her regular job, when COVID hit, Trudy well and truly upped the ante and took the practice of hospitality to a new level in order to spread joy and kindness to all.
“I often notice and sense the anxiety, fear and sadness in people as they arrive at the café and I’m aware that they may be in the hospital for a reason that’s far from joyous,” reflects Trudy.
These feelings were heightened during the long Melbourne lockdowns when Trudy began to notice hospital caregivers exhibiting similar behaviours. In an attempt to connect and engage with patrons, while also giving caregivers a quick breather from their stressful and demanding jobs on the wards, Trudy began sharing positive affirmations on the café chalkboard, along with some clever and mind boggling picture and/or word riddles known as rebus puzzles.
“I wanted to allow people to snap out of their mindset and take a break for a few minutes. I was hoping to offer them a positive distraction from their worries,” explains Trudy. “I believe in paying it forward and that everything is contagious. Of course, negativity can be contagious too but so is kindness.”
With a previous career in education, Trudy used her experience as a teacher to create and display challenging and visual puzzles and would award customers with chocolate if they got the answer right.
When asked if she would continue to extend this kind of hospitality into next year and beyond, Trudy did not hesitate and with a smile replied, “without a doubt!”
Values in Action series:
At St John of God Health Care we uphold the values of Compassion, Respect, Justice, Hospitality and Excellence. Trudy's story of our values in action is the second of a five-part series.