Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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Scones with jam and cream help make a serious point about nutrition and hydration

Last week, the Trust hosted a number of afternoon tea parties on the wards, to raise awareness about the importance of nutrition and hydration as part of National Food and Hydration Week. Patients were offered an assortment of treats such as sandwiches, cakes and scones along with the chance to get together with fellow patients and staff during the afternoon.

The tea parties were part of a worldwide campaign to highlight the importance of good nutrition and hydration in health and social care settings. There is evidence that poor nutrition and hydration care contributes to poor patient experience and can seriously undermine a person's health and wellbeing, and reduce their ability to recover. The aim of the week was to raise awareness of food and hydration as a key part of quality care and patient safety.

Michelle Young, ward manager at the Macarthur Centre, found it a positive experience:

"It was a nice social gathering for our patients during the afternoon when people don't usually come together. They enjoyed the scones with jam and cream and the sandwiches, although the cucumber ones weren't a favourite! It was a pleasant surprise and something our patients wouldn't ordinarily do."

As well as the parties, more serious work took place during the week, in that all inpatient areas carried out meal time observations. These were done by deputy modern matrons and catering staff, to check patients were getting enough food and drink, whether there was enough menu choice and whether the environment was right to help people enjoy a good meal. Meal time observations take place on a monthly basis ordinarily, but this got a head of steam behind them across the whole Trust. The Trustwide Nutrition and Hydration steering group, chaired by Joyce Fletcher, Deputy Director of Nursing, picks up any issues that are flagged up around nutrition and hydration. Lead Nurse Heidi Cater has been championing this work across the mental health division and providing leadership support to the steering group.

Joanne Appleby, Facilities Manager, said:

"We were pleased to join in with this important campaign. Food and drink are key parts of patient care and it's important we highlight this in a fun way but also develop more skills around monitoring nutrition and hydration and meal times in general."