With high numbers of patients still being reported as malnourished on admission to hospital, caterers must do more, says Neil Watson-Jones, chairman of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA). The HCA is urging caterers to play a more important role in the future in ensuring that patients actually benefit from the food being delivered to hospital wards. Normal food has always been and will continue to be the cheapest form of medicine and its therapeutic role within the healing process should never be underestimated.
It is essential that the medical profession recognises this fact and that food and nutrition have a higher status in the mainstream medical training courses. With clear medical evidence supporting the fact that good nutrition aids patients’ welbeing and recovery, doctors need to play an integral role with other members of the clinical, dietetic and catering teams in maintaining and enhancing the nutritional status of patients wherever possible.
Improving standards is far more than just the quality of the food on the plate, it is about enhancing a patient’s whole mealtime experience. Good quality food is no good to anyone unless they actually eat it, and this requires better communication to ensure that patients can eat their food without interuption and that they receive help when they need it.