Help to feed patients

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A plea for volunteers to help feed patients in hospital has received a mixed reaction across South Holland.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) is launching a new project this autumn to provide help to patients during mealtimes.

The Dining Companion Project at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston will support patients to eat and drink and will help to aid recovery and enhance the patient experience.

Some Spalding Guardian readers asked if they would help said it was “another money saving” exercise. They asked why staff were not doing it and were concerned about who would be feeding patients and whether or not they would be CRB checked.

Others said they had been happy feed relatives in hospital and wanted to get involved because “it would look good on their CV.” Under the plans, Dining Companions will go on to wards at mealtimes to help staff support older patients who require assistance or who have difficulty feeding themselves.

The project supports a national campaign by Age UK which encourages staff to implement seven simple steps to prevent malnutrition in hospitals, including the introduction of protected mealtimes and assessing patients for signs of malnourishment.

Cheryl St Hilaire, voluntary services manager at ULHT, said: “We are very excited about this new project, which will support both patients and staff and offers a new type of volunteering experience.

“All Dining Companions will be given specific training before starting in their roles and will be subject to all the necessary checks due to having direct patient contact.”

Katy McMillan, Specialist Dietitian for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Supporting our patients to receive good nutrition and hydration is one of the most important aspects of our care. The new dining companion project is a further example of this.”

ULHT is currently recruiting volunteers for this new and worthwhile project. If you are interested in offering a couple of hours a week to support the Dining Companion Project, then contact the Voluntary Services Department on 01522 597838 (Ext 7838) or email voluntaryservices@ulh.nhs.uk