Hospital staff highlight importance of good nutrition and hydration

From left: Abby Blockley, dietitian; Lauren Paterson, speech and language therapist; Alma Reynolds, housekeeper; Bridget Yare, housekeeper and Robyn Harrison, housekeeper

Health professionals at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are promoting “nutrition and hydration week” to enhance the recovery of their patients as part of an annual awareness campaign.

Nutrition and Hydration Week is being used to highlight, promote and celebrate improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally. Staff across the Trust are holding a number of events to promote the important of nourishing fluids at ward level to help meet the patient’s nutrition and hydration needs.

Staff from Speech and Language Therapy, Dietetics and Catering are working together to raise awareness that those at risk of malnutrition and dehydration can have poorer recovery from illness if their nutrition fluid needs are not met throughout the day.

Emma Shepherd, Service Manager for Speech and Language Therapy and Dietetics is leading the work.

She said: “If undetected, the effects of dehydration can be serious and rapid. Mild dehydration can contribute to confusion, falls, pressure ulcers and urine infections. Serious dehydration can cause a person’s condition to deteriorate rapidly, resulting in avoidable clinical intervention.

“We want to do all we can to ensure patients’ hydration needs are met at both drink and meal times. We want to use familiar food items to achieve this, and the dietetics team will be working with catering and speech and language therapy colleagues to assist the housekeepers and ward staff in making sure this happens.’’

Emma Shepherd (second from right), Service Manager for Speech and Language Therapy and Dietetics, with members of staff making nutritious drinks

She added:  “We know as care staff that nutrition and hydration is extremely important in the treatment of illness.  Some of our patients can have swallowing problems, so for them to be successfully treated we need to ensure that their fluids are of the appropriate consistency and as nourishing as possible.

“During nutrition and hydration week we will be working with the ward staff to promote nourishing fluids in between meals to aid those with smaller appetites and swallowing problems as a result of illness.”

Dietitian, Abby Blockley; Speech and Language Therapist, Lauren Paterson and Housekeepers Alma Reynolds, Bridget Yare and Robyn Harrison, toured the Stroke Unit and Wards 25 and 26 with a trolley and gave patients special drinks and foods.

Abby explained: “We have been promoting Nutrition and Hydration Week throughout the hospital – especially on the wards.

“We’ve been promoting nourishing drinks for patients who don’t like taking supplements. It’s a ‘food first’ approach, rather than relying on supplements, we’re enriching the food and drinks to make it more palatable.

“We’re making food and drinks that our patients are more used to having and they taste no different.

“We’ve focused mainly on the Stroke Unit and Wards 25 and 26 (Care of the Elderly wards)  because patients in these areas tend to be more at risk of malnutrition. We also wanted to show staff on the wards that they could use their budgets to order these sorts of items to enrich patients’ food and drinks.”

Lauren said: “These drinks and foods can be very good for patients with swallowing problems.

“Drinks and foods can be thickened up to the right consistency. We have three different thicknesses. Some patients find certain consistencies easier to swallow.”

Alma said: “We usually take the trolley around. It has been good to be involved in Nutrition and Hydration Week. It gives patients more choice. Some patients don’t like their drinks to be too sweet.”

Bridget said: “It’s nice for the patients to have different options. They have appreciated it.”

Robyn added: “This is what we are here for as housekeepers – to make sure patients get the food and drinks they need. We want to make sure they get the right nutrition as well. Patients said they were happy because the drinks didn’t taste different.”

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