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Chief Nurse's Blog

Chief Nurse's Blog

Date of release: 17 June 2021

Latest News: Ann-Marie Cannaby Blog

As we celebrate Nutrition and Hydration Week, I want to use this opportunity to highlight, promote and celebrate what we do well in the provision of nutrition and hydration and use the chance to reflect, reinforce and innovate as we strive to continuously improve.

COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the importance of health and wellbeing, not only for our patients, but for staff and all individuals. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to poorer outcomes for our patients while in hospital which include:

  • Increased length of stay
  • Patients feeling weak, dizzy, and with lower blood pressure which all increase their risk of falls 
  • A delay to the healing of wounds
  • An increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • An effect on cognitive function
  • Increased risk of constipation
  • Urinary tract infections and acute kidney injury.

Both The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust are highlighting Nutrition and Hydration Week this year.

In Wolverhampton we’ve adopted a different theme for each day of the week while Yvonne Higgins, Acting Chief Nurse, has appeared in a video promoting the events around the Trust. So far we’ve had:

  • Munchie Monday’ involved a session via Teams promoting healthy snacks and milk drinks in between meals 
  • ‘Thickened Fluids Focus Tuesday’ saw a Teams session for staff to go through a demonstration of making up thickened fluids 
  • ‘Worldwide Afternoon Tea Wednesday’ was the chance to have a socially-distanced afternoon tea in staff’s ward or department. A number of wards joined us with tea parties involving staff and patients.

Today we have ‘Thirsty Thursday’ – a focus on hydration via Teams, stressing the importance of hydration for patients and staff alike and ‘Fruity Friday’ is a promotion for patients to enjoy some fruit. RWT’s catering department will be sending different choices of fruits to wards to illustrate the need for fruit in our diets and also the variety available

This weekend sees ‘Simply Smoothie Saturday’ using fresh fruit to make refreshing drinks for super smoothies and ‘Hey Sundae Sunday’ looks at how incorporating ice-cream or cream in a sundae can boost calorific content in an appetising way for patients who need extra calories.

We are also launching a pilot on using hydration assessment to identify patients at risk with the introduction of a hydration chart and fluid balance chart on three wards.

This builds on our introduction of an oral assessment to nursing documentation to promote oral health and a dietary requirement assessment to identify patients at risk from a swallowing perspective, and patients who require modified diets and thickened fluids. Our plans will continue during the year so watch this space! 

Latest News: Nutrition and Hydration Week - Ruth Stokes
From left, Ruth Stokes, Senior Sister, Quality Team, and Xaqueline Lopez, Senior Sister, on Ward C19, showing their display for National Nutrition and Hydration Week

Meanwhile in Walsall, patients on Ward 11 are the first inpatients to try Jelly Drops – a new initiative to boost hydration and nutrition among those struggling to eat and drink.

Well done to Senior Sister Amy Reynolds who has been instrumental in introducing the pilot scheme after Ward 11 Clinical Support Worker Jayne Lynex saw them advertised. The approach is being supported by colleagues across Infection Prevention and Control, Pharmacy, Speech and Language Therapy, Dietetics and Older People’s Mental Health.

Jelly Drops were created by Lewis Hornby who was inspired to create water sweets after his late grandma Pat, who had dementia, was struggling to hydrate. These sweets are designed to boost hydration, are 95 per cent water, sugar free and vegan with a solid but smooth texture. They also look like a tasty treat.

Amy said: “We are always looking for innovative ways to encourage patients’ appetites and keep up their hydration which can be extremely difficult sometimes due to the nature of their health issue or because they are living with dementia.”

Walsall is also promoting The 10 Key Characteristics for Good Nutritional Care. The first of these is to ensure all patients and service users are screened to identify malnourishment or risk of malnourishment and ensure actions are progressed and monitored. The Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) is used to screen patients, and this should be done on admission and on a weekly basis thereafter. We have some training coming up and any ward that would like any member of their teams to have an update on MUST can email dietetics@walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk. There will be prizes for attendees and a hamper at the end of the month for the ward with the most attendees. 

Teaching is also being delivered to district nurses with a focus on nutrition and pressure ulcers, and we have a ‘spot on grand’ which is a weekly education session held in the Trust that all doctors are able to attend. To book your places please email  dietetics@walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk.

Take care,

A Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham