Doncaster health trust aims to make mealtimes matter more for patients

Ward 24 staff and deputy director of nursing, Cindy Storer, centre with red tunic, welcome Meal Time Matters at the Trust
Ward 24 staff and deputy director of nursing, Cindy Storer, centre with red tunic, welcome Meal Time Matters at the Trust

Ensuring good nutrition for patients is a top priority at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals Trust and caring staff hope their new scheme will ensure those in their care continue to eat and drink well.

Clinicians and other Trust staff say good nutrition and hydration helps individuals to recover from illness and injury, usually resulting in a shorter length of time spent in hospital.  But despite their best efforts staff say 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 bring supply of good food and drink back to top priority 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’.

Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at the Trust, Moira Hardy, said: “When patients come to hospital, it can be all too easy to forget to treat the person rather than just the symptoms. Mealtimes are incredibly important, and we believe that by ‘Making Mealtimes Matter’, we will improve nutrition, hydration and, ultimately, improve the experience for those staying with us, meaning that many patients will be able to recover sooner.”

The new scheme 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 changes that mealtimes will be better structured and enjoyable for patients, while creating a much more social environment. In 2017/18, DBTH cared for almost 100,000 patients.