Hospital tackles elderly malnutrition

IPSWICH Hospital has been given the thumbs up for concentrating on giving elderly people healthy meals today.

IPSWICH Hospital has been given the thumbs up for concentrating on giving elderly people healthy meals today.

But the hospital has been told it could do more to combat malnutrition among older people - by adopting a red-tray system which highlights those who struggle to eat.

Charity Age Concern said it was concerned that nationally 43 per cent of hospitals had not introduced protected mealtimes, a period dedicated to making sure patients get a healthy meal, and one in three do not use the red-tray system.

Ipswich Hospital has had protected mealtimes in place for two years in all wards except assessment units, however it does not use the red-tray scheme.

Today Daphne Savage, chief executive of Age Concern Suffolk, said: “The reason this is important is because research showed older people, who tend to have longer stays in hospital, were getting malnourished in hospital.

“The reason for protected mealtimes was to focus on helping people eat and the red-tray system was a way of indicating, without making a fuss, that that person needed help with their meals.

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“We're really pleased Ipswich Hospital introduced protected mealtimes. It would be good if they could use the red-tray system too.”

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital's spokeswoman, said: “We have protected mealtimes and food in the hospital is very important to both patients and people who work within it because is it a big part of people's road to recovery.

“We haven't got a red-tray system but we have similar systems.

“We are also very grateful to people who say they or their relatives have problems eating and speak up for help.”

Does more need to be done to tackle malnutrition at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.