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Do red trays improve food intake?

  • Comments (18)

Do red trays improve food intake? What do you think?

Many hospitals are introducing a red tray system at mealtimes to identify patients who need help or their dietary intake monitored. It was recently introduced at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust where patients with a specific dietary requirement have their meals served on an orange tray, while water jugs with red lids are provided to patients that require their fluids to be monitored.

However in this week’s practice comment Neil Wilson, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University asks whether red tray systems are putting a sticking plaster over the greater problems of poor nursing direction and leadership.

Wilson said: “The introduction of a vast amount of initiatives - such as “nutritionally screening” all patients on admission, even if the initial nursing assessment identifies they are at minimal risk of being nutritionally deficient - have increased the documentation workload for nurses. Alongside this, “red tray systems” and “red water jugs” for those at risk of dehydration/malnutrition have only proved to put a sticking plaster over the problem of poor nursing direction, leadership and the lack of management support for nursing quality care”.

 

  • Comments (18)

Readers' comments (18)

  • Anonymous

    I think its a bit of a joke to ask nurses to be responsible for peoples nutritional intake - when many nurses do not have control over portion size or any say in outside caterers choices.

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  • Oh dear anonymous - what a cop out. Nurses may not have any direct control over portion sizes but that is the least of the problem.
    "The nutritional value of food left on the plate is nil" as Rick Wilson ,dietitian once said.
    Okay you may not have any control over portion sizes but you do have a responsibility to make sure people can eat. You have a responsibility to ensure that they can reach their food. You have a responsibility to make sure that there is not a reason why they are not eating.
    If someone finds that their meal is too small and they are still hungry, you have a responsibility to find them something else to eat - a snack box for example.
    If they find the meal is too big and they are only picking, then you are responsible for trying to coax them, help them with menu choices and if necessary refer to a dietitian.
    I am absolutely appalled at your comment and hope that it is one said in isolation.
    Nurses are not the only ones responsible for nutritional care of patients - it is an MDT effort. BUT we are in the unique position of being with our patients 24 hours a day and as such will know them best. We are their advocates and the ones who should be observing and reporting EVERYTHING!

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  • Anonymous

    portion size and presentation are very important for patients. if you have little appetite there is nothing worse that a plate full of too much heavy, stodgy unappetising looking food. nurses should ensure patients are served the meals they need according to their personal tastes, appetite, and ability to eat and chew and any special dietary and calorific needs.
    I presume in UK hospitals there is also a choice of menu and that meals are well balanced to provide all the required daily nutrients? It is quite extraordinary that hospitals and nurses do not consider diet a vital part of patient care as it is a basic human need in any circumstances and especially so for patients as they are unable to cater for themselves.

    How about looking at airline catering for some lessons and the European hospitals?

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  • Tinkerbell

    Liz Evans | 24-Feb-2012 7:10 am

    Well said, otherwise we might as well all just go home. Food is such an important part of recovery and for some long term patients maybe the highlight of their day. We can only do the best we can with what we've got, where we are. Also the amount of medications some patients are on should not be given on empty stomachs, unless px to be given before meals. I am loathe to give patients meds before they have breakfast and a cup of tea.

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  • Anonymous

    in i trust i used to work for red tray were used for infection, as to identify how the crockery should be cleaned and a ad memoir to new/agency staff to use PPE that would led to confusion

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  • Anonymous

    red trays, red mug lids, red uniforms for sisters, red laundry bags and red tabards. It would look very funny if all these landed on one ward and very tiring for everybody and especially the patients.

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  • Anonymous

    This is the sort of issue that ought to be debated at Congress, REAL issues that affects nurses and patients alike. Perhaps responsibility for patients nutritional status ought to be taken away from nurses and given to dieticians who could then employ their own team of staff to ensure that patients are adequately fed.

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  • Yes thats a good idea. And lets take away infection control and give it to a team of microbiologists who could then employ their own team to ensure that the wards are clean and wound dressings are done aseptically and that people all wash their hands properly!!!
    Nutrition is EVERYONE's responsibility - and the last time that nutrition was removed from the responsibility of nurses was in the 80s when it was proclaimed to a hotel service- look how well that turned out.

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  • Anonymous

    there is a vast difference in catering for hotel guest and sick patients and in the diets required

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  • @ anonymous - completely agree but try telling some Trust managers that.

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