Hos­pi­tal meal times must be un­in­ter­rupted

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

SLIGO Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal is fo­cus­ing on mak­ing ‘Meal­times Mat­ter’ for pa­tients. Eat­ing well dur­ing a hos­pi­tal stay plays a key role in re­duc­ing com­pli­ca­tions, speed­ing up re­cov­ery and im­prov­ing out­comes for pa­tients.

Around one in four pa­tients ad­mit­ted to Ir­ish hospi­tals will feel the ef­fects of mal­nu­tri­tion dur­ing their hos­pi­tal stay. There are mul­ti­ple rea­sons why a pa­tient may not en­joy their meal. Some rea­sons are un­avoid­able such as fast­ing for es­sen­tial tests and pro­ce­dures.

Oth­ers are very avoid­able such as mul­ti­ple dis­trac­tions on the ward dur­ing meal­times. It is the lat­ter that is the fo­cus at Sligo Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal.

An­nette Lalor is the Chair of the Oral Nu­tri­tion Group at the hos­pi­tal. This group brings to­gether staff from mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines to look at ways of im­prov­ing the pa­tients’ nu­tri­tional care.

“One of their goals is to re­view the ward en­vi­ron­ment dur­ing meal­times.

She said, “Ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the pa­tient, hos­pi­tal staff, fam­ily mem­bers and hos­pi­tal vis­i­tors have a role to play in en­sur­ing that pa­tients are given the op­por­tu­nity to eat their meals in com­fort. We all know what a dif­fer­ence it makes to sit down to a meal at home with­out con­stant in­ter­rup­tion and the same ap­plies in the hos­pi­tal set­ting.

“We have looked at each ward and the chal­lenges it presents.

“The chal­lenges on a busy sur­gi­cal ward where pa­tients are fast­ing and head­ing to theatre are dif­fer­ent to those on a stroke ward where many pa­tients may re­quire timely as­sis­tance to help them eat their meals safely.

“We have an ac­tion plan in place for each of the wards. This in­cludes ac­tions to min­imise ac­tiv­ity around pa­tients dur­ing meal­times, en­sur­ing pa­tients are sit­ting up and ready for meals and en­sur­ing timely as­sis­tance is avail­able if re­quired. We are also are striv­ing to en­sure that all pa­tients are pro­vided with ap­pro­pri­ate choices.

“The fam­ily and friends of pa­tients also have an im­por­tant role in mak­ing ‘Meal­times Mat­ter’.

“It is very tempt­ing for peo­ple who have ap­point­ments in the hos­pi­tal to use it as an op­por­tu­nity to in­cor­po­rate a visit to a friend or fam­ily mem­ber.

“How­ever, the end time of clin­ics of­ten co­in­cide with hos­pi­tal meal­times.

Vis­it­ing is fine as long as it is dur­ing the hos­pi­tal vis­it­ing hours.

“We are ask­ing for the pub­lic’s as­sis­tance to help us make meal­times mat­ter by only vis­it­ing fam­ily and friends in the hos­pi­tal dur­ing vis­it­ing hours from 2-4pm and 6.30-8.30pm.

“To­gether we can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence for our pa­tients.”

Sea­mus Faugh­nan from Arigna, Roscom­mon en­joy­ing lunch with­out in­ter­rup­tions from staff and vis­i­tors

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