Countess team tastes own medicine on puree diet challenge
The Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) team at the Countess of Chester Hospital are sampling their own medicine this week by following a puree diet to coincide with Nutrition and Hydration Week 2016.
Patients who have trouble swallowing for whatever reason can be put on a diet of pureed food and thickened fluids. This allows them to get all the nutrients they need without the risks of choking or food going into the lungs.
Stroke patients and those living with dementia can be put on this kind of plan and SALT, who oversee its implementation, are keen to get a better understanding of what it is like to consume all their meals in this way.
“We talked about sampling the meals ourselves and from there it just kind of snowballed,” Speech and Language Therapist Amy Bastow said.
“We thought, ‘well we could try to do what we ask patients to do’, which is manage on a puree meal for what might be a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, or even long term. We thought about what a challenge it was and at the same time we need more resources for our communication patients and outpatients in terms of them learning about swallowing difficulties and projection.”
Seven members of the SALT team, a therapy assistant and a dietitian are eating their meals in pureed form from March 14-18 as part of the ‘Ready, steady, puree’ challenge.
At the time of writing they have raised just over £800 for a new iPad and relevant apps for use as a communication aid on the stroke unit.
“A lot of speech therapy can be quite repetitious, but it’s good for patients,” Amy added. “It’s ideal for a computer format because you get your score and you get to compete again and so people can be more motivated to use computer games to do that kind of therapy.”
The challenge is being co-ordinated with the help of the Countess’ catering department; although those involved are still following it for meals they eat at home as well.
Head Chef Sue Miller, who ensures fresh food is cooked daily for patients and staff at the Countess, points out that those who eat a pureed diet have exactly the same hot meals available to them – only in a different form.
“We are passionate about giving all our patients high quality food that is made from fresh ingredients,” she said. “Anyone who needs a pureed diet gets the same food as other patients, just in pureed form. If you try it and shut your eyes the taste is exactly the same as you would expect, it’s just the texture that changes.”
Advanced Speech and Language Therapist Claire Hankinson has noticed a big difference between her home-made pureed efforts and those at the Countess, saying: “It makes me appreciate the kitchens at The Countess because of what they do. It’s a tasty meal and you can taste all the different parts of the meal.”
Food First Dietitian Victoria Forrest is fully behind SALT’s efforts and her team will also be visiting wards across the hospital for staff to try pureed meals.
“It’s really good what they’re doing because it highlights the importance of following recommendations and making sure everyone is encouraging patients to have the right diet, thus ensuring the patient has the best possible opportunity to meet their daily needs for calories and protein,” she said.
The challenge forms part of the Countess’ efforts to mark Nutrition and Hydration Week, which is an annual event to highlight the importance of a good diet in health and social care settings.
“It’s vital to promote the importance of nutrition and hydration in the hospital,” Victoria added. “It’s the cheapest and easiest part of a patient’s medicine. We all have to make sure a patient is eating and drinking enough.”
:: To support the ‘Ready, steady puree!’ challenge, visit - www.justgiving.com/readysteadypuree