NHS nutrition week provides food for thought

GIVING A HELPING HAND: Trust chief executive Alan Foster serves patients their lunch
GIVING A HELPING HAND: Trust chief executive Alan Foster serves patients their lunch

HEALTH chiefs are taking a close look at the role of food and drink in the recovery of patients.

Bosses at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say the refreshments consumed by people who are sick are a very important part of their recovery.

There is evidence that poor nutrition and hydration can harm patients’ health and wellbeing and reduce or prevent their ability to recover.

Colin Chapman, head of catering

That’s one of the messages that staff at the trust have been highlighting as part of Nutrition and Hydration Week.

Activities were held across the trust’s various centres to raise awareness about the importance of proper nutrition and hydration of patients.

The week began with an opportunity for hospital visitors to taste samples of patient food.

The following day, non-clinical staff volunteered to work on the wards to serve patients their lunch.

The project was described as an extension of a trust scheme called Mealtime Companions which was launched last year.

The successful programme has already seen many staff, who are not based on the hospital wards within the trust, become regular volunteers and help to serve patients on the wards.

Later in the week, staff served patients drinks and cakes at their bedsides as part of a worldwide afternoon tea project. The week then ended with a cake baking competition which was open to staff.

Head of catering Colin Chapman explained why nutrition was such an important part of helping patients on the road to recovery.

He added: “There is evidence that poor nutrition and hydration can harm patients’ health and wellbeing and reduce or prevent their ability to recover.”

But he also said that poor and inconsistent practice in nutrition and hydration care can also lead to serious and avoidable harm.

Mr Chapman added: “The week is all about raising awareness around the need for good nutrition and hydration and recognising we all have a role to play in improving the health and well-being of those in our care.”

The week-long awareness campaign has become an important part of raising awareness, said Mr Chapman.

“Every year the week is growing in popularity. It’s proving to be a fantastic way of showing people what we are doing here and how important what they eat and drink is to their health.”

The week was part of a campaign by the Hospital Caterers Association, National Association of Care Catering and NHS England to improve awareness of good nutrition and hydration for patients.