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Supporting inpatients

Being in hospital can be a challenging time for patients, family and friends. Often we find visitors are keen to support patients in whatever way they can but they don't always know what they can do.

Below are a few suggestions of ways you can support your loved ones whilst in hospital. The aim is usually to encourage nutrition to support recovery but please do check if they are already under the care of a dietitian, this is because some people may require a special diet. You can check by speaking to your loved one or their nurse.

How can you help?

  • Encourage importance of mealtimes as part of care and treatment
  • Help with eating and drinking, if needed, whilst visiting
  • Provide information on food and drink likes and dislikes to ward staff. For patients with dementia or who may struggle to communicate we have an "All About Me" booklet available for completion by family and friends on the ward.
  • Provide additional information on usual meal time routine at home
  • If able, you could bring in favourite snacks that are not available on the ward. Please read the Guidelines on Bringing Food into Hospital before doing this, as some foods may cause harm.

Does everyone admitted to hospital see a Dietitian?

In short, no, not everyone will need to see a Dietitian.

When people come into hospital, theyare nutritionally screened within 6 hours of admission by nursing staff using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool ('MUST'). 'Malnutrition' is a term used to describe poor nutrition. Around one in three people being admitted to hospital could be at risk of being 'malnourished'.

Those who are at high risk of malnutrition are started on a nutritional care plan, part of which will include referral to the Dietitian.

Patients are regularly rescreened for malnutrition throughout their admission. A referral can be made to the dietitian at any point in a patients stay with us.

In addition to those patients who are at high risk of malnutrition, a patient may be referred to the Dietitian for other medical or surgical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, stroke and liver disease.

Some patients are unable to swallow safely, and therefore cannot eat and drink as usual. They may require food and drink of different textures or even tube feeding. A referral would be made to the Dietitian to ensure their nutritional needs are met.