Eating well is on the menu at RIE

12/08/2009 - 00:00
Dedicated nutrition co-ordinators are working in NHS Lothian as part of a pilot project to encourage healthier eating.

The new scheme is underway at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) to help senior charge nurses reinforce the importance of food and fluid on the wards. Each day the senior charge nurse appoints a dedicated clinical support worker to help them co-ordinate mealtimes and ensure that all patients have adequate nutritional care to not only to aid recovery, but also to promote future health and wellbeing. The project began in February and since then the senior charge nurse and the co-ordinator have been working together with patients to get more out of mealtimes. One of the first steps was to create a protected mealtime for patients. It means that all clinical activity stops on the ward to ensure patients have a relaxing meal and that staff are on hand to offer help and assistance. The co-ordinator not only works with the senior staff nurse, but the rest of the ward staff to ensure meals are distributed quickly. Patients are encouraged to eat and drink well and all patient charts are completed accordingly. So far the scheme has been running in some of the medical and surgery wards at the RIE. Melanie Hornett, Nurse Director, NHS Lothian, said nutrition was at the heart of good health and recovery: "One of the most important aspects of this scheme is the protected mealtime. It means that patients get a focussed, relaxing environment, while staff can really work to encourage eating well and that all patients are well nourished during their hospital stay. "We are also currently reviewing the education and training needs of staff and we have piloted a nutrition-based e-learning programme to reinforce the practical experience."

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