Nurses in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s dementia care team have developed a nutrition and hydration pathway for patients in hospital who have the condition.
As a result, patients with dementia receiving treatment at the trust in London are being offered specialised support to help ensure they are eating and drinking enough while in hospital.
“Good nutrition is a vital part of dementia patients’ recovery and goes hand-in-hand with treating their medical needs”
The dementia care team has developed a hydration and nutrition pathway for patients who have dementia to support them consume the amount they need in hospital.
The Dementia Nutritional Support in Hospital Pathway – also known as NoSH – has three levels and aims to improve nutrition and hydration in patients with dementia by providing a tailored response to their needs.
Its development has been supported by the recruitment of two healthcare support workers and is funded by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity.
All patients who are admitted to the trust with a diagnosis of dementia are automatically placed on the first level of the programme, known as “core support”.
Patients have their weight monitored regularly and their food and fluid intakes recorded to help the nursing team ensure they are getting all they need.
Patients are also given “bento boxes” with healthy snacks providing them with access to nutritious foods on demand and sugar-free squashes to add to water to help keep their fluid levels up.
In addition, for patients who require more support, the team has developed the “enhanced” and “intensive” levels of the programme.
These can involve one-to-one support for patients, daily reviews by the pathway team, the development of eating and drinking goals, use of music during meals to stimulate appetite and providing five smaller meals a day, which can be easier for some patients with dementia to manage.
Jo James, dementia care lead at the trust said: “Good nutrition is a vital part of dementia patients’ recovery and goes hand-in-hand with treating their medical needs.
“Our new patient centred approach to nutrition and hydration allows us to keep a close eye on patients’ intake while they are on the wards, which aids a speedy recovery so they can return to their own home sooner,” she said.
In recent months, the trust has introduced several other new measures to improve the experience dementia patients.
These include the roll-out of a carer’s passport scheme that encourages people to visit whenever they want to, outside of normal visiting hours, and new activity packs to help keep dementia patients relaxed and occupied while they are in hospital.