Making Mealtimes Matter in Hospitals

Clinicians at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) are looking to better structure meal times for patients by introducing a series of improvements on wards and in departments.

Ensuring patients eat well and have enough to drink is extremely important. Good nutrition and hydration helps individuals to recover from illness and injury, usually resulting in a shorter length of time spent in hospital.  Despite the best efforts of clinicians, patient meal times can be interrupted due to a number of reasons, as wards and inpatient departments are often very busy places with competing priorities and treatments. To address this and also complement recently increased visiting times at the Trust, staff will be moving away from ‘Protected Mealtimes’ and are instead working towards ‘Making Mealtimes Matter’.

This means that non-essential activity will stop during mealtimes and activities will shift from clinical work to the meal service. All staff will be encouraged to help and nutrition-related patient care such as topping-up drinks, creating social dining spaces and assisting patients who need help to eat. Carers and families who wish to support their loved ones to ‘Make Mealtimes Matter’ will also be welcomed onto the ward area at this time.

It is hoped that by making these simple changes that mealtimes will become better structured and enjoyable for patients, while also creating a much more social environment. It’s also important that relatives and carers are welcomed onto wards to help their loved ones if they wish and as such all mealtimes will be displayed upon entry to wards, clear for all visitors to see.

This recent innovation is just one of many examples of a drive towards what is known as ‘person centred care’ at the Trust. In late 2018, DBTH significantly increased its visiting hours, while further projects encourage patients to get up and dressed when they are in hospital to end ‘PJ Paraylsis’, an initiative to prevent deterioration of muscle strength due to bed rest.

In 2017/18, DBTH cared for almost 100,000 patients within wards and services.

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