Hospital dishes out new rules for eating in

PATIENTS in local hospitals are to be given peace to savour their soup, taste their tatties and munch their mince, writes Bob Burgess.

Health chief have put undisturbed meal times on the menu at Borders General Hospital and community hospitals across the region.

They’ve prescribed a ban on non-urgent treatment for an hour when food is served.

Experts say peaceful meals are an essential part of a patient’s road to recovery.

The new scheme – Protecting Patient Mealtimes Policy – has just been launched by NHS Borders.

Associate director of nursing Mairi Pollock told us: “It may seem obvious, but hospitals are very busy places. Doctors and nurses undertake patient review and medication rounds, we encourage friends and family to visit their loved ones, and patients also have appointments whilst they are in hospital.

“Protected mealtimes at breakfast, lunch and dinner ensures that staff focus on the patients’ food intake three times a day. 

“It is about remembering how important a mealtime is, and making sure every patient is able to eat their meal as they would at home with few distractions. 

“This initiative means that nursing staff and therapists have the time to prepare patients, to make sure they are comfortable and to assist them in eating their meals, where necessary, and to monitor their nutritional and fluid intake.”

But she stressed: “All urgent and emergency treatments will carry on as usual and those visitors and carers actively involved in assisting patients with meals will continue to be encouraged to visit and help at mealtimes.”

To support this initiative, NHS Borders is providing information to all staff to remind them of the importance of protected mealtimes and what they need to do to make this a success.

And information about the policy is available for family and friends who are planning to visit patients.

Each ward will display the times of their protected mealtimes – but as an average guide these will be 8-9am, noon-1pm and 5-6pm.

And hospital staff say he public can help with the success of the scheme by keeping to visiting times and not phoning at mealtimes whenever possible.

Families will be encouraged help their relatives at mealtimes if the patients need assistance and they are willing to provide that help.