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The hospitalfoodie system has been developed to ensure consistent delivery of nutritional care for older people in hospitals. It delivers this by focusing on two core principles:

  1. Recording and monitoring what has been eaten and drunk is more important than simply recording what has been provided from a set menu.
  2. Action is taken when intake is shown to be inadequate by providing energy dense foods and drinks at ward level.

The development of hospitalfoodie, in the mappmal project, funded by the joint Research Councils ‘New Dynamics of Ageing’ programme led by the ESRC, has been driven by a multidisciplinary research team from the Universities of Newcastle and Reading and Glasgow School of Art.

It has brought designers, dietitians, geriatricians, gerontologists, food scientists and computing science experts together with older people, caterers, nurses, managers and charities such as BAPEN.

“BAPEN is delighted to have been involved in the development of hospitalfoodie and to host its launch on the first day of our Conference [Tuesday 29 November],” says Dr Mike Stroud, Chair of BAPEN. The principles on which hospitalfoodie is based chime completely with BAPEN’s own.

BAPEN agrees that hospitals need a whole system approach to tackle variation in delivery of nutritional care, with an emphasis on individual requirements, robust monitoring and ease of provision to back up any shortfall in intake that may put patients at increased and unnecessary risk of malnutrition and poorer health outcomes.”

Whilst hospitalfoodie has been developed with older people at its heart, the system is intended for use across whole hospitals.

“hospitalfoodie has the potential to meet the needs of all patients in hospital,” says mappmal lead Professor Paula Moynihan of Newcastle University. “By concentrating on older people, who often have the most complex health needs, we believe we have developed a system that will promote good nutritional care in people of all ages and with all conditions to give them the best chance of recovery.”

The hospitalfoodie system combines a bed-side touch screen that enables staff to measure and monitor nutrient intake and prompts remedial action, with pre-meal checklists for staff to enable both carer and cared for to be better prepared and anticipating meals, and with a ward-based mini-meals unit so that nursing and care staff can promptly support patients to select and eat or drink additional items. The technology that makes all this possible was developed by experts in the Design School at The Glasgow School of Art in liaison with computer scientists from Newcastle University.

“The system has been designed to be as clear, accurate and easy-to-use for all concerned and has been informed by end user involvement,” said Professor Alastair Macdonald of The Glasgow School of Art.

The mappmal team has also developed nutrient dense food items such as ice-cream and biscuits which have been taste-tested and won the approval of older people, professionals and individuals taking part in the study.

“Older patients generally have small appetites and do not want to eat large meals; in addition they often suffer from a deterioration in their ability to taste food. With this in mind, we have developed foods that are small portion sizes yet high in nutritional content and taste to consume any time of day,” said Dr Lisa Methven of the University of Reading.

“Whilst the current climate may prove challenging for hospitals to consider investing in systems such as hospitalfoodie,” concludes Mike Stroud, “the evidence is over-whelming that without a change in systems, coupled with a commitment to training, many Trusts and individual wards will fall far short of both the expectations of regulators and of patients and their families.

hospitalfoodie presents a vision of how nutritional care can be provided in hospital, one where we would all be happy to see our grandparents, parents, ourselves and indeed our children receiving care. It certainly has the potential to reduce inconsistencies in the delivery of nutritional care so starkly highlighted by the recent Care Quality Commission inspections.”

Editor’s notes:
hospitalfoodie is being launched on the first day of BAPEN’s ‘Malnutrition Matters’ Conference at Harrogate, Tuesday 29 November 2011. The mappmal project is running an interactive stand at Conference where delegates can experience the whole programme, including the interactive bedside screens and reporting system, and taste the new nutrient dense foods.

Interviews are available with Dr Mike Stroud of BAPEN, Professor Paula Moynihan of mappmal, Professor Margot Gosney geriatrician from Reading University, Lisa Methven food scientist of Reading University, and Professor Alastair Macdonald, Senior Design Researcher, Glasgow School of Art.

Journalists are invited to attend BAPEN and experience hospitalfoodie for themselves.

For more information, interviews and comment:
Philippa Cahill 0207 492 1973 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Backgrounder on hospitalfoodie and the mappmal project will be available on the project website from 29th November.

BAPEN is the multi-professional registered charity committed to combating malnutrition and promoting excellence in nutritional care in hospital, care homes and the community. Registered Charity No. 1023927

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