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16 August 2007
A scheme to identify vulnerable elderly hospital patients at mealtimes, developed as part of a University course, has taken off throughout the UK.
The ‘red tray scheme’ makes hospital staff aware of patients who have difficulty eating, or who are not eating enough. It was devised by Sister Lindsey Bradley as part of her Evidence-Based Practice in Health Care course at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Under the scheme, meals for those who need help with their food are served on a red tray, alerting hospital staff to the fact that the patient needs assistance. Serving meals on a red tray ensures that plates are not removed from a patient until they have had enough and a nurse has made an assessment that the person has finished eating.
Sister Bradley said: "In my experience, meals were served to elderly patients and when it was assumed they’d finished the tray was taken away, regardless of what was left on the plate. Nutrition plays such an important part in a patient's recovery I thought something must be done to tighten up the system."
Colin Rees, a lecturer from the School who supported Lindsey’s project, said: ‘The system is an excellent example of the collaboration between education and practice, and its success is down to its simplicity. The idea has overcome some of the problems regarding nutrition and the elderly in hospital."
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