11th March 2014 – Hospital supports Nutrition and Hydration week
Staff at Airedale Hospital are raising awareness of the risks of malnutrition for patients in hospital, in the community and vulnerable people in their own homes during a week long campaign this month.
Dieticians and colleagues working with older people are supporting the third national Nutrition and Hydration Week, organised by Patient Safety First between 17 and 23 March, with a series of displays at the hospital for staff and carers.
One of the schemes Airedale Hospital uses to support people who may require help with eating is a red tray system. When meals are served, staff can easily identify people who may require help by looking out for a red tray and providing assistance quickly in a way that does not compromise the dignity of the patient or quality of the meal.
Nick Bergin, specialist nutrition support dietician at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, says: “At any point in time, more than three million people in the UK are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. There are many reasons why people become malnourished, anything from swallowing problems, nausea or vomiting, pain or infections or simply a loss of appetite can affect someone’s ability to take in the right amount of food and fluids.
“It’s our job, when people are admitted to hospital, to assess their nutritional needs and liaise with the catering team to boost their calorie intake and help them to get better as quickly as possible. When patients go home, relatives and carers can help by encouraging them to eat smaller portions more regularly as well as eating snacks with higher calories.
“We want to raise awareness of how important good nutrition and hydration is to people’s health and wellbeing as well as support staff, carers and relatives with practical tips to help them care for people who are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished. Ensuring our patients maintain good nutrition and hydration is a fundamental part of caring for them properly.”
Airedale Hospital supports a number of schemes to provide patients with safe, dignified, quality nutritional care. In addition to the red tray system, wards have protected meal times, which enable people to eat their meals without unnecessary interruptions and ensure they are ‘ready’ to eat. A number of volunteers have also been trained, in addition to ward staff, to provide appropriate assistance at mealtimes for those who need it.