At the beginning of 2014, the University of Surrey conducted a National UK Food and Nutrition Survey of all 216 UK hospices. The survey was part of a study aimed to
identify specific issues related to food and nutrition in hospices within the UK and
provide recommendations based on the results and literature search about nutrition in palliative care patients.
51 responses were included in the final analysis.
98% of hospices rated nutrition as important or very important for patient care. However, 31% of hospices carried out no nutritional screening. Those that did, used either their own in-house screening tool or the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool.
80% of the hospices produced the meals they provided for patients on-site. In 92% of the hospices, the chef was the main person deciding what the menu would be. Most of the hospices (88%) had a small ward kitchen which they could use between meal times to produce snacks and small meals for patients if needed.
The majority of hospices provided meals for special diets (such as vegetarian) although in some cases there was little provision of specially designed meals for some medical conditions and symptoms commonly seen in hospices. In terms of palatability and presentation of the food, most thought the food being served was palatable (64%). About half thought the food was colourful, 44% thought it was appetising and 36% thought it was creative.
Only 54% of hospices provided some form of nutrition training for staff, although we don’t have detailed information as to what this training consisted of.
This survey is the first of its kind. We have been able to identify seven areas to consider when thinking about nutritional care in hospices. We will discuss these in detail with some recommendations for practice.
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