A new tool to measure the quality of nutritional care provided to patients could give nurses extra clout when pushing for improvements, according to nursing experts who helped develop it.
It comes amid ongoing concern about the quality of nutrition, particularly for frail and elderly patients in hospitals and care homes.
“The tool may also enable nurses to highlight barriers to the provision of good nutritional care”
The resource – which is free to all NHS and social care organisations – is designed to give nurses and others a quick and simple way of measuring the effectiveness of nutritional care.
Rather than simply checking that nutrition checks have been made, it can show whether nutrition plans have been followed, the results achieved and also gathers patients’ feedback on the care they have received.
The five-minute bedside assessment can prompt immediate action to enhance the nutrition of an individual patient.
Meanwhile, the tool also provides a “nutrition dashboard” that can give an at-a-glance picture of how a hospital or care home is doing overall when it comes to nutrition.
This can instantly flag up where improvements are needed, as well as highlighting examples of good practice that can be shared and replicated.
The resource was developed with support from BAPEN’s core groups, including the National Nurses Nutrition Group (NNNG), which said the ability to report directly from ward to board could help nurses make the case for change.
“We feel it could provide a real opportunity to measure the processes of good nutritional care and, more importantly, monitor the patient experience,” said NNNG chair Liz Evans.
“Adopting the tool will allow trusts to showcase areas of good nutritional practice and identify areas requiring improvement,” she said.
“The tool may also enable nurses to highlight barriers to the provision of good nutritional care, including lack of suitable equipment and the challenges of weighing patients in an acute care setting,” she added.
Developers said the Nutritional Care Tool would provide valuable data at both a local and national level.
“It will allow organisations to monitor the quality of the nutritional care they actually provider and to identify weaknesses,” said BAPEN president Dr Mike Stroud.
“Learning from areas of excellent practice will then help to improve standards in areas falling below required levels and, for the first time, we will have a national tool that can document those improvements,” he said.
“By using this tool regularly, organisations will have robust assurance that they are meeting their obligation to provide good nutritional care to every patient on every ward on every day,” he added.