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Trust launches 'picture menus' for older patients

  • 10 Comments

Older patients in North Tyneside and Northumberland are set to benefit from a novel approach to helping them to eat well while in hospital. 

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new picture food menu, which allows patients to choose their meals from pictures rather than written menus. It believes it to be the first of its kind in England.

The idea was developed by the trust’s catering superintendent Michael Taylor and nutrition nurse specialist Allison Baxter.

Mr Taylor said: “The [menu] book features large pictures of the food on offer, which helps patients to choose the food they prefer more easily and our ward staff say it is also helping to stimulate patients’ appetites.”

They acted on feedback from ward managers that many elderly and dementia patients would simply order whatever food was last on the menu, as they found it difficult to remember other options and express their preferences. 

The picture menu was trialed on three wards last year. It showed a significant increase in the amount of food being eaten by older patients.

The project has now been rolled out across all three of the trust’s main general hospitals – North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Hexham.

Ms Baxter said she was delighted. “We all know that ensuring patients receive adequate nutrition is an essential part of basic patient care and by doing this well can make a real difference,” she said.

“Most of our patients are elderly and have conditions that are physical or cognitive or both, so anything that helps them to eat well and choose the food they like and enjoy is worth trying.”

The menus include both summer and winter choices for patients, in line with NHS guidelines, to ensure patients get the right nutrition during their stay in hospital.      

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • Great idea! Well done! Isn't it always the way that the simplest ideas are always the best. I'll be having a word with the catering manager ASAP.

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  • what about elderly nurses. they will need picture guidelines to help them do their job.

    ____________________________

    more seriously, this can only a good and positive idea for elderly patients.

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  • Excellent idea, should be utilised in care homes too!

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  • Pirate and Parrot

    Looks like a good idea to me - one of those 'why didn't I think of that before ?' things.

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  • Pirate and Parrot

    PS Provided the food does match the illustrations !

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  • they need to include the tea on there as well as water and a choice of other drinks.

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  • this is an excellent initiative, useful for overseas patients too who may not understand English, those with dysphasia, those who cannot read so just tick anything on the menu and those who don't feel like eating but the picture makes the food look appetising.

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  • a powerful tool (to put it in management speak), if presented attractively to stimulate appetite. It sounds rather a costly exercise, however, if good quality is used.

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  • A choice of 20 Breakfast items and 10 beverages, & Ward snacks are also included in the booklet

    Michael Taylor Author

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  • Again a wonderful topic. The change initiative and proposal are unclear. there is no rationale for this nor is the change agent identified.

    Looking at Kotters change management model you would do fine in terms of short term wins but I see no sustainable force to initiate this in other settings. Are you planning to carry this on with no evidenced base or is it the site not performing to deliver the appropriate details?

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