Nurse-Led Care Tradition: End Of The Year Meal With Families

Dec 20, 2023 | Nurse-Led Care News |

Each year our public health nurses host an annual end of the year meal for their clients. Started in 2014, this tradition celebrates the warmth and values of the season. It’s an opportunity to gather with families for a meal, look back at the year, take a family portrait, and create memories. We spoke with Lizz Tooher, Senior Director of Child Health and Education, who began her career at NNCC as a nurse with Mabel Morris over 11 years ago. Read the interview below: 

Can you tell us about the start of the End-of-Year Bash?

Of course. Actually, this is the first time we called it an End-of-Year Bash. Historically it's been an end of year meal, but as our team has grown and we have an event coordinator, the event grew alongside it. This specific event started two years after Mabel Morris began. We already held monthly events called Group Connections, created to build community and reduce isolation. But we wanted something special for the end of the year, to celebrate the warmth and value of the holiday spirit. So for our first End-of-Year Bash we planned an evening meal for the families. 

The event started as preparing a meal together. The families and nurses all came together to make a large meal, then adults sat together at the large table to eat as the kids and nurses shared their meals over some activities. And it was successful.

I remember a specific moment where everyone who came had an opinion on how to squeeze a lemon. There were all the different techniques on how to get the most juice, and this simple moment signified much more. Food brought people together and it was an event without a language requirement - everyone could come and be equal.
Lizz Tooher


How did the meal grow to be the End-of-Year Bash?

Eventually, as our program and budget grew, we brought on more nurses and families. The event became too large to have the input of all the families to cook, but we didn’t want to create an entirely new event, so we shifted gears. We learned from the feedback of our families and our own experiences how to best accommodate families during the End-of-Year Bash.

We incorporated music and dancing, story time and family photos. Our families started bringing friends and extended family to participate, involving more of their community than they are able to do during home visits. And at the end, the families leave with a goodie bag of snacks, a book, and something commemorative.

This transition reflected in the Bash - a lot has changed. Initially we had a strict structure during the event, but then we learned that it needed to be an open house and be more flexible. We learned from what we were seeing - building expertise over time. Like everything else in our work, it's long term with families. You get to know your work better and the events better. It’s much less formal now.

This event provides opportunities for families to connect with one another and their nurses outside of their biweekly nurse-home visits. Oftentimes, families express their appreciation for the impact NFP/MM and their nurses have on them.
Lizz Tooher

How does this Bash illustrate how nurses are treating the whole person when it comes to their work with their families.

For us, the care starts before the families arrive to the event. If you go to the doctor, the care starts in the exam room, but for us we start before with the emphasis of providing rides and food. We understood that barriers existed for these families that impacted their attendance. Our care begins before the event does - we provide free transportation, free food at any time during the event, and a safe space for families to enjoy the festive season. And, as mentioned before, a huge part of our model is about building community and reducing isolation. This event brings families together. Folks come when they can, and we want to meet them where they're at.

Why is this End-of-Year Bash so meaningful to both nurses and their families?

These events bring moments out for families - they spend time with their nurses and realize they aren't ready to graduate from the program. These families and nurses care so much about the relationships they've spent years forming.


Learn more about our public health nursing programs.



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About The Author

Katie Pratt is the Communications Manager for the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium. 

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