Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014, which drew to a close on Sunday 23 March, has been proclaimed an unprecedented success by its organisers. Significant numbers of hospital caterers, NHS Trusts and care homes across the UK – and the world – have taken part with positive action and key events, which have embraced the principles upon which the Week was founded. Celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE also lent his personal support to the cause. Such was the level of engagement and interest, the Twitter reach was a staggering 3 million.
The three leading organisations behind the Week – Patient Safety First (PSF), Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and National Association of Care Catering (NACC) – put out the challenge to everyone involved in nutritional care in health and social care settings to use the week as a platform to demonstrate and share nutrition and hydration best practice, and illustrate how by making changes to eating and drinking habits people can improve their quality of life. The campaign set out to help health and care professionals to prevent under-nutrition and dehydration in hospital patients, care home residents and social care service users. The aim was also to ensure that actions taken during the Week to improve awareness of the role nutrition and hydration play as a fundamental aspect of care become a long term legacy of positive change.
In particular, the call to take part in Nutrition & Hydration Week’s Worldwide Afternoon Tea on Wednesday 19 March, urged social and health care providers to serve afternoon teas or stage tea parties to service users and present a united effort and commitment to improving nutrition and hydration. The official launch of the Week held at St Bart’s Hospital on March 19, to mark Worldwide Afternoon Tea Day, was joined by celebrity chef, Cyrus Todiwala OBE.
Commenting on the outcome of the Week, Cyrus Todiwala OBE said: “If Pervin or I were to be laid up in hospital for whatever reason, the last thing we’d want is bland, unappetising and typical hospital food. It would be great to be fed good, wholesome, tasty, nutritious and healthy food cooked with care and attention. That is half the job done and arguably three quarters of the recovery process! This is simply what Nutrition & Hydration Week is trying to highlight and did so most successfully – I was proud to have played my small role in it”.
The scale of activity reached far beyond our shores with Afternoon and Morning Tea Parties arranged as far afield as India, Canada and Australia. The first Tea Parties took place in the early hours of March 19 in Tasmania and then Melbourne, Australia, followed by other countries around the globe.
The concept of Afternoon Tea has captured the imagination for service providers across the UK and beyond. They have taken up the challenge in their thousands with staff going to enormous lengths to create tea events with everything from fine china crockery, handmade cakes, sumptuous gateaux and pastries to freshly baked scones and even special Nutrition & Hydration Week branded cup-cakes. A Chocolate Scoffin (a Scone/Muffin cross) was also created for the Week!
The fantastic mix of activities showcased the incredible dedication, imagination and enthusiasm of not only caterers, clinicians, dietitians, nurses and care home staff but also Chief Executives of NHS Trusts and care homes, all of whom have really embraced the ethos of the Week with the collective objective of embedding good nutrition and hydration into everyone’s care. The simple but socially bonding concept of Afternoon Tea has been a stimulus for service providers everywhere to get involved and has successfully embodied the Week’s key message about the contribution good nutrition and hydration can make to patient recovery and also importantly, individual wellbeing.
Care Homes and social care services across the country fully embraced Nutrition & Hydration Week. As well as an abundance of uplifting Afternoon Teas, the Week was also supported with interactive activities promoting good nutrition and hydration, including cake competitions, food tastings, the sharing of information, free fruit and drink distribution, and fancy dress days. In many places, members of staff that are not usually hands-on at meal times, including CEOs, also offered their support and played their part in serving and delivering meals in order to raise the profile of the vital role nutrition and hydration plays in ensuring the wellbeing of service users in care settings.
Hospitals have also stepped up to the mark with afternoon tea being enjoyed on the wards and in designated areas in many hospitals all over the UK. Whilst afternoon tea has represented a tangible focal point for promotional activities, hospital caterers have also found novel themes and ways to promote key nutrition and hydration messages as well as about initiatives aimed at increasing patients’ nutritional wellbeing such as Protected Mealtimes. From Tuck In Tuesday to Thirsty Thursday, caterers were busy promoting everything from new healthy eating options in cafes and restaurants, trialling new soup recipes and conducting sampling exercises – from puree food menus and fruit to water to promote the importance of good hydration.
Speaking on behalf of the three lead organisations – NACC, Patient Safety First and HCA, Andy Jones, HCA Chair says: “The level of support for the Week has been phenomenal. We have been overwhelmed by the way in which hospital and care caterers as well as all the support staff in health and social care settings have truly embraced the concept of Afternoon Tea and integrated it into the promotion of the Week’s aims. The strength of commitment to delivering good hydration and nutritional care demonstrated throughout the UK and the world last week should make us all proud. It should also reassure patients, care home residents and their relatives of the exceptional lengths and high standards to which our teams strive every single day”.