Special lunchtime therapy sessions for people who have suffered a stroke have been introduced at Hull Royal Infirmary.
Therapy teams working at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have set up special lunchtime dining clubs to help with patients’ recovery and offer a more supportive, sociable lunchtime experience.
Selna Mathews, Occupational Therapist working on the Stroke Unit (Wards 11 and 110) at Hull Royal Infirmary says:
“The dining clubs were originally set up as a way of providing practical support to stroke patients from all the various therapy teams; Dietetics, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. Mealtimes can be particularly difficult for this patient group, as they often have complex needs. Often patients can have difficulty swallowing or have cognitive or nutritional problems, for example, whilst others may have difficulty holding their cutlery, but we’ve found we can really speed up patients’ rehabilitation by spending a bit of extra time with them and providing more individual, one to one support.”
The dining clubs run every weekday, catering for between four and six people at a time. Each session is run predominantly by Therapy Assistants with support from other multi-disciplinary assistants.
Jill Snape, Speech and Language Therapist, says:
“As mealtimes can sometimes be quite stressful for this group of patients, we try to create a really relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, so we’ll lay the table fully for lunch and put on some background music to try and make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
“The sessions allow the therapy support staff time to work with patients individually using safe feeding practices, and closely monitoring those with swallowing difficulties. It also helps patients to regain upper limb use and potentially improves planning or processing difficulties which are common after a stroke.”
Joanne Black, Dietitian for the Trust says:
“The dining clubs help us to improve patients’ nutrition and prevent malnutrition by encouraging each person to eat as much as they can manage. The Therapy Assistants also ensure patients have access to specialist thickened and nutritional drinks if needed – this helps to ensure patients don’t become dehydrated which could hinder their stroke recovery.
“Our goal is to help our patients regain their independence with feeding and other daily activities. Patients who are signed up to the dining clubs really look forward to their turn each week, and both patients and relatives are telling us that they appreciate us being able to offer that extra bit of mealtime support.”
The Trust provides care and rehabilitation to some 900 people each year who have experienced a stroke. Numbers of patients attending the dining clubs are currently limited in order that each staff member can dedicate themselves to supporting one individual patient per mealtime.
However, it is hoped the dining clubs can shortly be rolled out to more wards following the introduction of a new in-house training package for staff who wish to help feed patients across both hospital sites.