I’m always keen to lend my support to positive health campaigns, and with Nutrition and Hydration Week (March 14-20) starting today, I want to draw your attention to how we’re celebrating the event at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust (WHT).
The week is a good opportunity for us to re-focus our attention on how important it is to nutritionally optimise our patients and ensure they are well hydrated, while also reminding staff to take regular breaks and make use of the ‘hydration stations’ on wards by drinking throughout their busy shifts.
Good nutrition is so vital to our patients and their care and outcomes. From the moment they are admitted it is so important we screen for undernutrition with the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) and assess their diet and hydration needs.
Research shows patients who are nutritionally optimised have better clinical outcomes and often, a reduced length of stay in hospital. Many of our patients will need assistance with eating, and it is up to us to ensure we provide this. A good meal-time experience where we provide appropriate food and drink for our patients to meet their individual preferences, cultural and clinical needs, is an important part of the patient care we provide across both Trusts.
Problems with swallowing puts patients at risk of aspiration (when something ‘goes down the wrong way’ and enters your airway or lungs), which can lead to clinical complications, or choking, potentially leading to fatal consequences.
It is therefore imperative we prepare thickened fluids correctly and ensure our patients receive the correct level of modified diet. This is in line with the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI), an international framework that provides a common terminology, with standardised levels of thickness for fluids and food textures.
With these important messages in mind – and as part of our focus on patient safety and patient experience – multi-disciplinary teams across both Trusts have collaborated to plan events with daily themes over for Nutrition and Hydration Week. I must thank Ruth Stokes, Senior Sister, Nursing Quality Team, at RWT and Professional Lead for Nursing Quality at WHT David Powell.
Here are some examples of the activities which will be taking place this week:
‘MUST focus on Monday’
- Virtual dietetic-led bite-sized sessions on MUST at RWT
- Virtual bed scales training across WHT and RWT
‘Time to Think Tuesday’
- Virtual session on Fluid thickener awareness at RWT
- Virtual session focusing on food charts with dietetics at RWT
- ‘Spot the difference’ competition across RWT and WHT, with prizes to win
- At RWT, promotional stand at Greggs with Dietetics and Nursing Quality
Global Tea Party / Swallowing Awareness Day Wednesday
- Speech and Language Therapy stand in Heart & Lung Centre at RWT
- Catering colleagues across both Trusts bringing treats to wards for patients, for afternoon tea
- Guess the weight of the fruit hamper at WHT, with a prize for the winner
- Virtual session on hydration across RWT and WHT
- Hydration stations / awareness for staff
- Occupational health / staff challenges at RWT
- Dietetic-led ward walks at RWT and WHT
- Nursing Quality Team ward walks with pledges and merchandise for staff at RWT
Please join staff this week at one of the stands or events, and/or approach them on the wards to make a pledge. It’s vital we get nutrition and hydration right for all of our patients, and together, as a team, it is achievable.
Thank you to all staff who are working hard to make this happen and don’t forget to keep yourselves well nourished and hydrated too!