Inpatients at Altnagelvin Hospital are enjoying the benefits of improved mealtime arrangements.
An innovative electronic ordering system known as ‘Saffron’ is now in place across all wards within the hospital.
Saffron facilitates lunch and dinner time meal ordering and allows nursing, dietetic and catering staff to better monitor the nutritional intake of patients.
Western Trust Project Leader, Michelle Martin said: “The Western Trust is the first Trust in Northern Ireland to introduce this new system. Nursing Auxiliary staff use wireless ‘tablet’ devices to collect meal orders daily from our patients. Patients have several meal options to choose from.
“The tablet is also used to ensure special diets for patients who have specific dietary requirements, are stringently followed. Our main kitchen then receives the orders electronically and prepares and dispatches the meals to the wards, where they are served to the patients.
“We piloted the system in four wards within the Altnagelvin site in September 2013 and were very impressed with the feedback. We fully implemented it in all wards during the start of this year.”
Anne Gormley, Head of Dietetics at the Western Trust said: “There are several benefits of Saffron. The most significant one is that we now have a much greater awareness of the nutritional intake of each individual patient, this is a very important aspect of our patient care.
“Adequate and correct food and fluids are as essential to good care in hospital as the medicines patients are prescribed and the treatment received. Simply put, meeting patient nutritional requirements will help them to return to health more quickly and prevent a whole range of complications which can delay recovery.”
The Saffron project is an important part of an overall Trust initiative to improve all aspects of food, fluid and nutritional care involving nursing, dieticians, catering, pharmacists, healthcare assistants and speech and language therapists, all working to a common goal of improving the patient experience of food and mealtimes and improving nutritional care in hospital.
Mrs Gormley added: “As a result of the Saffron project the Western Trust has developed a catering provision across the Trust meets regional and national standards and is flexible enough to meet the array of nutritional, ethnic and cultural requirement of our patients.”