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Coloured trays aid nutrition in Norfolk


A simple coloured tray system has been introduced to help ensure patients are able to access appropriate levels of nutrition in Norfolk’s community hospitals.

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust’s coloured tray system sees red trays provided to patients who need physical help when eating. 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.

The trust’s executive nurse Loyola Weeks said: “Patients with particular nutritional needs, or those who need physical assistance eating, are invited to sign up to the coloured tray plan. Staff take patients their food on coloured trays and sit alongside them in case the patient wants some help feeding themselves.

“The member of staff then records what has been eaten and drunk on the patient’s nutritional chart. The charts are used to evaluate what has been consumed and means we can ensure patients are receiving the right levels of nutrition for their needs.”

The trust, which runs 10 community hospitals, has also introduced protected meal times.


Readers' comments (7)

  • Thought the red tray system was nationwide, obviously not. It's been used at Cambridge University Addenbrookes Hospital for at least the past year, if not longer. Part of the HCA's role is to assist patients at mealtimes. I should also stress that it was an HCA who thought of this system to ensure all patients recieved adequate fluids & nutrition.

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  • Anonymous | 15-Feb-2012 2:12 am

    Is the system proving to be effective?
    What are its pros and cons?

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  • Lindsey Bradley and I are delighted that the Red Tray system, originally published in 2003, has been accepted in Norfolk. The system is clear, logical. Its widespead acceptance as a 'trigger' for hightened nutritional support demonstrates that simple ideas can be successful. Colin Rees, School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, Cardiff.

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  • Ellen Watters

    Excellent… and anything that helps patients receive adequate nutrition and the correct diet is only a good thing. I like the idea of the coloured lids for the water jugs for pushing or monitoring fluid intake. Well done the HCA who thought of it.

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  • Let's just hope that staffing levels are adequate, to allow for the patient flagged up by this scheme to be assisted ....

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  • the red tray system and jug lids have been used in our trust for ages now and whereas it is a good idea in highlighting staff to patients nutritional requirements it doesn't work if there aren't enough staff to assist. sometimes our ward has over 12 feeds to assist with and when you only have 5 staff on a late shift patients wanting toileting, medication to administer it is nay on impossible however hard you try.

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  • since Cameron's brilliant idea about hourly rounds, which seems to be unrelated to staffing numbers, I wonder what 'suitable' suggestions he might come up for this one? Perhaps he should be summoned for a visit to give his advice again!

    He is very good now, according to recent press photos as he has now learned that he has to roll up his sleeves and tuck in his tie when visiting the wards. I am not sure whether he remembers to disinfect his hands between every handshake or not though.

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