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Shake supplement demo shows how they aid patient recovery

15 March 2017

Health Care

As part of National Nutrition and Hydration Week, Specialist Dietitians at Southend Hospital have been giving the public and staff the chance to taste test some of the supplement shakes that some patients take to ensure they get the right amounts of daily nutrients and calories.

To the taste they are just like normal milkshakes and come in a range of flavours, such as strawberry, chocolate, banana and vanilla.

One brand of milkshake showcased can contain up to 600 calories and 12 grams of protein, or a smaller supplement for people who can't handle large volumes of liquid is also available, this one carries 300 calories and 12 grams of protein.

Henry Wood, Specialist Oncology Dietitian, explained how it worked. He said: "We work out how many calories the patient would need, for instance an average man aged 20-40 would need about 2,500 calories so if he was 600 calories short of his daily quota then we would give him two of the 300 calorie shakes to make up for it. We'd also look at the protein and how much hydration they would need in a day."

One of Henry's colleagues, Tom Snape, Specialist Gastroenterology Dietitian, said that there had been quite a bit of interest in the awareness raising stand. He commented:  "There has been a steady flow of people and although initially unsure about trying the shakes, once they had them they found them interesting and different to what they expected.

"Many thought the shakes were just for older patients, although care of the elderly is important and supplements are used in the hospital's care of them, the shakes are used right across the range of our patients. For example, they may need building up as they've lost some weight or have lost their appetite, or even have a wound that needs healing."

The 'food first' approach is used for many patients in the hospital, and works by issuing food to increase nutritional intake with high energy and protein meals and snacks. But some patients find the supplement shakes much easier to manage. If patients are receiving the right amount of nutrients then they will hopefully be able to go home quicker. Some patients could be just drinking the supplement shakes as they can't take solids, helping to fill that eating and drinking gap

Henry added: "For many people who have cancer and have poor appetite or taste changes, or a very dry mouth, these supplements are a great way of filling that gap. Cancer can impact anyone from very old to very young."

There are also juice drinks that do the same job and there are a range of puddings for patients who can't have fluids. As well as using the stand as an opportunity to raise awareness about the supplements to people who don't come across them, unless they have a need to use them or one of their relatives does, the dietitians also spoke generally about health and wellbeing related to drinking two litres of fluids a day and keeping a healthy weight for your height.

The demonstration of the range of shakes, desserts and fruit juices took place in Lifestyle, the hospital's restaurant run by Medirest, the leading provider of catering and soft services to the NHS.

Together Medirest and the Trust have been running a whole host of nutrition and hydration related events to help raise awareness with staff, patients and relatives.