County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has secured
over £73,000 in a competitive national bidding process for an
innovative project to help combat isolation and undernutrition in
older people living in the Darlington area.
Project leader, Catherine McShane, who heads up the team
at Darlington Memorial Hospital, explains how the project will
work, "Our community nurses already identify elderly patients
likely to benefit from support and this funding means we can now
offer them a referral to a luncheon club, where they will have a
nourishing meal and a chance to meet people in a similar situation
to their own. They will also benefit from having
their nutritional health monitored and access to specialist
dietetic advice should it be needed.
"There is strong evidence that once patients are aware
they may need to eat more, and perhaps different, food, and become
involved in monitoring themselves, improvements follow.
There's also evidence of a close link between social isolation and
undernutrition. Our colleagues in the community are able to
identify and support vulnerable patients but this project will
offer another level of on-going help. We're very excited about
getting things up and running."
Ian Dove, business development manager, added, "We're very
grateful to The Health Foundation for awarding funding to this
project and recognising its huge opportunities. We're also grateful
to Age UK Darlington for sharing with us their expertise in running
Although planning is in the early stages, the lunch clubs will
run during the late autumn.
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community