Colour coding will help patients at meal times

Sarah Almond, Head of Nutrition and Dietetic Services with patient Dennis Eldridge
Sarah Almond, Head of Nutrition and Dietetic Services with patient Dennis Eldridge

VULNERABLE patients will be given more help at meal times through a new scheme at the DGH.

Staff at the Eastbourne hospital will now be using a red tray and red lid system to help identify patients who are unable to feed themselves or have special dietary requirements.

Patients who are earmarked as needing extra help in eating and drinking will now be served their meal on a red tray and their water will be presented in a jug with a red lid.

This colour-coded system is designed to make sure doctors, nurses and all members of staff are aware of which patients need specific nutritional help.

Patients are screened by nursing staff within 24 hours of their arrival to a ward or department to determine whether they need to be put on the scheme.

The food and fluid intake of the patients on the scheme is written down so that dietitians can review their progress and adjust their menu if needed to maximise their nutrition which in turn speeds up recovery.

Sarah Almond, head of nutrition and dietetic services, welcomed the move.

She said, “We needed to put a system in place to make sure that patients who need assistance at meal times get support as many can eat well if they are given a little help.

“This initiative aims to do exactly that. My team of dietitians will be monitoring the system to see how well it works but we envisage great success.”

To allow staff to be available to give assistance to patients on the red tray and lid system, the lunchtime meal is served during a period called protected meal times.

This involves all activity on the ward stopping to prevent unnecessary interruptions to the patients’ meals and to ensure staff are available to serve food and give assistance.

The red tray and lid scheme is part of a wider county-wide drive to improve meal times for patients.

Alongside the initiative, special cutlery has been delivered to every ward to help patients like those recovering from a stroke to eat independently again.

There has also been the introduction of a trial of insulated bowls that keep the food chilled or hot for longer.