Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Elderly patients 'leaving NI hospitals malnourished'

Too many elderly people are leaving hospital malnourished, a charity has claimed.

Age Northern Ireland said older patients were being left hungry because they were unable to eat the food left on their hospital tray.

The charity said patients depended on families to both provide the food and feed it to them.

It said relatives were concerned patients were malnourished because food was not being pureed or cut up.

Duane Farrell from the charity said ensuring patients are properly looked after in hospital is more important than ever in the current economic climate.

"Under these conditions older people are going to spend longer in hospital, they're at risk of getting more infections and are going to need more medicine, so the economic reasons are argument enough," Mr Farrell said.

"We believe that hospital trusts need to be at the forefront of this, directors of nursing within those trusts need to be compiling information about how standards are being implemented and coming up with action plans."

Leandre Munroe, from Belfast, said her mother was sometimes unable to even reach her food tray.

"They can't bend over if they've just had surgery so the tray was just too far away.

"If it was closer, even then she couldn't cut it so you had to try and spoon feed, just to drink things she would need a straw," Ms Munroe added.

"Unless you were there to feed the person you were caring for, there wasn't enough staff to do that."

In a statement, the Department of Health said nutritional standards for patient food in hospitals was launched in 2007.

Since then trusts had adopted a screening tool to identify those patients who are at most risk, the department said.
Source: BBC


stono said...

My Missis worked in an OAP home in NI but left when she saw a member of staff hiding in a cupboard and pretending to be a ghost to frighten some old dear. More recently, an ex-colleague left her job for a similar reason - a patient was dragged out of bed and fell, and died two days later. The staff were laughing about this and calling each other murderers, it was a big joke. Hopefully my severe tobacco addiction will carry me off before I'm helpless.

Web Promotion Team said...

I feel sorry for those elderly patients in hosptial who do not have regular visitors to keep an eye on what's going on. When my mother (who sadly passed away last Christmas) was on her last visit to hospital I became alarmed by her plummeting weight. I spoke to several staff members who just didn't take it seriously. I then telephoned the sister on the ward on more than one occasion and eventually they put her on what they called "special watch" i.e. a nurse or nursing assistant would sit with her and encourage her to eat.
When you're unwell it's easy to push your plate away but if someone who is kind encourages the eating of even a few mouthfuls it can help restore the appetite. You cannot fight illness on an empty stomach!

I've seen staff clearing away plates on the wards after meals that obviously haven't even been touched but they say nothing. "Following the least line of resistance" seems the order of the day in most hospitals.