University Hospital Galway has launched a new ‘Red Tray’ initiative to make sure patients who need extra assistance at mealtimes get the best possible care.
Patients who need extra support from hospital staff at mealtimes will have their food served on red trays as a clear visual indicator to staff that this person is vulnerable and needs assistance.
“Patients who have a red tray will be given encouragement by staff to eat at mealtimes and will be given help with eating if they need it,” said June Barrett, Senior Dietitian at UHG.
“Or it may be a case that they need more time to eat. Sometimes, simply making a patient comfortable and positioned correctly may be all that is required.”
Poor diet or an inability to eat is a serious healthcare issue, with statistics showing that one in four patients admitted to Irish hospitals have significant weight loss and signs of malnutrition.
That same evidence shows that improving their diet can have a massive benefits for patients with improved outcomes, reduced stays in hospital, and a lower risk of readmission.
Chris Kane, General Manager of Galway University Hospitals said that their Nutrition and Hydration Committee is always looking for ways to improve patient care.
They identified the Red Tray initiative as a very simple step that could make a real difference to people who just need a little extra help.
“Also, last year we introduced a Protected Mealtimes Policy which provides patients with dedicated time to have their meal without interruption”.
This he said allows staff to fully focus on helping them with their meals and dietary needs.