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Making the most of mealtimes

We know that where food is served in the right kind of atmosphere then satisfaction increases, more food is eaten and better nutrition is provided. We also know the very positive impact that the right levels of nutrition can have in helping recovery, which is why we are running a pilot scheme and have appointed a 'nutritional assistant'.

"We know that patients, for a variety of reasons, sometimes need extra help and support at mealtimes. As a nutritional assistant I'm on the ward working with nursing staff to provide this support," says Danielle Dove

"We've made some changes to the way we do things at mealtimes which are benefitting patients. We're very supportive of 'protected mealtimes' so each ward has a set time when meals are served and eaten and no visits or interruptions from medical staff take place during this time. We've set aside time before meals to help patients get ready, so that they were washed, comfortable and ready for their meal when it arrives and we've staggered mealtimes across the different wards to allow staff to move around the wards and provide extra support where it is needed. For example, on ward 12 which is orthopaedic trauma patients sometime need extra physical support with their meal.

"While in hospital patients have their dietary and nutritional needs assessed and we use a nutritional screening tool to identify patients at risk. We've also made snacks and meals more readily available out of normal hours for people who may be admitted to the ward late at night or early in the morning.

"While we've made a lot of improvements we know there is still more to do and we will continue listening to and acting on feedback received from our patients."

Published: 19 April 2012

'I have to compliment everyone on their pleasant persona and their expertise and knowledge. By the end of the 5 days, I did not feel as though I had been in a hospital ward and was very relaxed.'

Patient, Ward 16 Orthopaedics, University Hospital of North Durham