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Hospital snack trolley wins national award

11 July 2013

Health Care

Staff and volunteers at Southend University Hospital are celebrating after an innovative scheme to boost the recovery of frail, elderly patients won a major national award.

The hospital's snack round service, which offers chocolate, scones with jam and other calorie-laden treats to tempt those with poor appetites, took the 'patient safety in care of older people' award at London's glitzy Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. The highly-contested Patient Safety 2013 awards were organised by theNursing TimesandHealth Service Journal.

There to receive the award were clinical development nurse Claire Buckell, who has worked tirelessly on the snack rounds initiative, Lisa Thompson, manager of Stambridge ward which helped trial the scheme, oncology dietitian Henry Wood and Macmillan dietetic assistant Ross Little.

Nursing Timeseditor, Jenni Middleton, told the winners: "You have accomplished something truly special: your efforts have given your patients and their families and friends a better experience, a safer experience, a more integrated experience of healthcare."

The snack round scheme was launched by the hospital's volunteer Feeding Buddies, dietitians, ward and catering staff to boost the nutrition of elderly patients and so improve their recovery. Many patients tend to eat and drink less when they are ill and this can affect their ability to fight infection, delay wound healing, reduce muscle strength and induce fatigue, apathy and confusion. Elderly patients are also more at risk of falling if their bodies are not receiving sufficient sustenance.

An audit had found that some patients were eating less than 650 calories a day while they were in hospital - way below the recommended 1200 for elderly patients.

However, following the introduction of snack rounds their intake was boosted with some patients even doubling their intake.

The service, which includes a traditional tea trolley and cake-stand, is operated by the hospital's specially-trained Feeding Buddies, distinctive in their red tabards, and ward staff. They tempt patients with scones, chocolate bars, bananas, custard, yogurts and other appealing treats.

Claire said: "Often patients don't have much of an appetite when they are ill. The tempting snack rounds scheme has been so worthwhile and is very popular with our older patients and their carers. It is a complete thrill for us all to have won this award."

A delighted hospital chief executive, Jacqueline Totterdell, said: "We knew from the start that the snack rounds scheme was a winner in all ways and are delighted with the team's well-earned success. They have all put in many additional hours to audit food intake, devise how to improve patient nutrition, recruit and train the volunteers, get the trolley scheme up and running and roll it out to relevant wards.

"We are so proud of them - and we know that our patients really appreciate the snack rounds which have become a highlight of their day."

Southend's sexual health service was also represented at the presentation ceremony, as its failsafe method of ensuring HIV-positive women receive regular cancer checks made the short-list in two categories.

Ms Totterdell said: "Just winning through to the finals is a great accolade as this year the awards received the highest number of entries ever.

"Patient safety is paramount and we are delighted that their work has been recognised nationally."