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Supporting patients to eat well in hospital

25 November 2008

Six foot high posters are now on display at the entrance to all inpatient wards at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in west London to highlight the importance of good nutrition for patients in hospital.

Six foot high posters are now on display at the entrance to all inpatient wards at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in west London to highlight the importance of good nutrition for patients in hospital.

The colourful posters advise staff and visitors of the hospital’s ‘protected mealtimes’ policy which means that lunchtime for patients is now at set times and during these times ward activities should be kept to a minimum.

All routine activity is suspended during lunchtime—12:30–1:30pm on adult wards and 12:15–12:45 on children’s wards.

Staff and visitors who enter a ward at lunchtime are asked to return when lunch is over—unless their attendance on the ward is clinically urgent or they are helping patients to eat.

This ensures that patients can enjoy their meals without interruption and that nurses and support staff can assist in serving food and supporting patients who need assistance to eat.

On average 40% of patients admitted to hospital are at risk of malnutrition but nearly 80% of patients at Chelsea and Westminster are nutritionally screened within 24 hours of admission which is well above the average in London teaching hospitals.

‘Protected mealtimes’ ensure that patients with mobility or communication problems, older patients with dementia, and patients who cannot feed themselves receive the support and assistance that they need.

Andrew MacCallum, Director of Nursing at Chelsea and Westminster, said: “These new banners reiterate our commitment to the importance of good nutrition in hospital. Lunchtime is important for our patients because a good diet is key to making a speedy recovery and they need a protected, quiet time to eat their meal.”

Professor Tim Allen-Mersh, Consultant Gastrointintestinal Surgeon, agrees: “If patients are eating and drinking well, they can cope better with their treatment and recover faster. We have stopped doing ward rounds during mealtimes so that patients can be given the support they need.”

Notes for editors:

Contact Claire Kennedy on 020 3315 6829 for further information.

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