Comment on: Is home the best place to die?
As the anonymous person to whom Michael Stone refers above I would like to confirm that he has largely understood my point correctly. However, my husband also said that, in addition to the points made by Michael, he founf the whole business of having to visit the hospital - and staying for long and unpredictable periods - added to his stress when coupled with looking after the family at home. He found caring was much easier at home.
As a nurse, I can understand the clinician's perspective - but I am not sure the converse is true!
The above comments indicate the problems we are facing with regard to hospital food and illustrate the difficulties well. I entirely agree with Rick Wilson (above) that the food and its presentation are only half the story but, in responding to Mark Radcliffe's piece about the quality of hospital food, this was inevitable. We all know that many other issues require addressing not least the ward environment, attitudes to food and presentation of meals. Nursing attitudes and actions are also important. But none of these address the fundamental issue of the quality of the food. Even if all the other factors are 'right' this will be for naught if the food is unpalatable, inedible or unappealing.
I would like to address the above comments. Firstly, I do not deny that the Schools Food Trust is a good organisation with entirely laudable aims (to transform school food and food skills, promote the education and health of children and young people and improve the quality of food) they do not, themselves produce food so their purpose is a different one. They do, however, provide guidance and recommendations so something similar for the NHS would be an excellent idea.
Second, if you return to the text above, you will note that I did NOT advocate that patients should be fed on burgers and chips - in fact I specifically stated that they should not! BUT what I did suggest that we used the skills of a company such as MacDonalds to help and guide the NHS in HOW to produce food of an APPROPRIATE nutritional and quality standards suitable for patients and their conditions.
Sara talks about her experiences of 'awful' and 'unidentifiable' food and yet questions my 'ironic' statement about McDonalds. Patients need food, they need nutrients and they need something to stimulate their appetite - MacDonalds seems to fit the bill!
However, how much better it would be if hospitals were to take their role in nutrition more seriously. It is surely up to us as professionals and patient advocates to play our role in this aspect of care and campaigning for appropriate food for our patients?
How I agree with Stephen O'Connor above. As both a nurse and a nutritionist I have been writing about - and advocating for - good nutrition in hospitals for more than 25 years. We know about the incidence of malnutrition in hospitals, and we know that patients report food is often inedible - is it really beyond the wit of man (or at least hospital managers, practitioners and the DH) to draw links between these two facts and do something about them? Obviously yes!
Secondly, Mark, you seem to have forgotten the important fact that it is crucial that patients eat - and food that is not eaten is of the lowest nutritional value. Short term consumption of a diet that is high in fat and/or salt will do little harm while failure to eat will inevitably inhibit recovery. Perhaps McDonalds should be given the franchise since they regularly produce - at all times of the day and night - highly palatable food of a standard nutritional value which is superior to many meals produced in hospitals!