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A recipe for success

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 32, PAGE NO: 47

Claire Archer, RGN, nutrition nurse specialist

In February 2001 the Department of Health launched The Essence of Care: Patient-Focused Benchmarking for Health Care Practitioners. It has been encouraging that food and nutrition is an essential component to this and yet again we have a positive vehicle for driving forward standards of food first and how to get this aspect of care right. Nurses can be a potent influence in ensuring that the delivery and consumption of food is achieved to meet individuals' needs.

In February 2001 the Department of Health launched The Essence of Care: Patient-Focused Benchmarking for Health Care Practitioners. It has been encouraging that food and nutrition is an essential component to this and yet again we have a positive vehicle for driving forward standards of food first and how to get this aspect of care right. Nurses can be a potent influence in ensuring that the delivery and consumption of food is achieved to meet individuals' needs.

At St Bartholomew's Hospital and the London NHS Trust benchmarking has been welcomed with open arms and we have an exciting future for addressing nutrition issues. Resource groups have been set up - recruitment to the groups has been on an individual voluntary basis and is open to all disciplines at all levels, the only criteria being interest or even passion about patient nutrition issues. The response has been amazing and we now have representation from health care support workers, community staff, speech and language therapists, ward staff and student nurses, to name but a few.

Roadshows have been run to provide information on benchmarking. They provided an arena for questions and answers and also enabled us to recruit more members to our resource group. The hospital intranet site provides colourful current updates on the work of the group to date, along with relevant home pages, homework pages and information of current and ongoing work.

The networking opportunities have resulted in creative new ideas as well as forging new partnerships, cementing existing team work, sharing the evidence and looking at needs and requirements of the local population. Re-evaluating ward routines to facilitate greater emphasis on mealtimes will increase food consumption along with the implementation of the new national patient menu. Making feeding patients a positive experience and not a task that is left or forgotten and promoting independence in those who require rehabilitation by the use of specialist devices or equipment is essential nursing that enables us and our patients achieve positive outcomes.

Operating within a shared governance structure this has fostered a feeling of value and all staff have demonstrated that they can contribute to this exciting project. Each member has an 'action pack' to note nutrition activities or initiatives in their areas. From this we can develop ideas, celebrate good practice and disseminate this across the trust. Meeting regularly with the group members who have made a true commitment of time and work has provided inspiration and motivation. It is hoped that this approach will be our recipe for success.

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