Case Study: Improvement on a plate

Mary helps patients with Dementia

Mary has helped improve nutrition for patients living with Dementia

Following her husband’s passing, Mary became passionate about making a difference to Dementia care in Portsmouth and spent some time looking into how she could help make mealtimes easier for the patients.

“My husband lived with Dementia for the last four years of his life. When Roger was diagnosed, I read and read and read. I wanted to be prepared. I wasn’t going to let it beat us. Despite my preparation, mealtimes became challenging and it became increasingly difficult to persuade him to eat.  Since Roger died, I have continued to look into this subject and I have come across theories that coloured tableware can improve the patient’s mealtime experience.”

Working with the team

Mary was put in touch with Brooker Ward at St James’ Hospital and initially intended to purchase new coloured tableware for the ward; however after approaching the Research and Improvement team for advice, a plan was hatched to develop a project in partnership with the service which would assess the needs of the ward and the solutions available to ensure the best match.

The project group met for the first time in January 2018 to observe a mealtime and plan the next steps. Mary was joined by catering staff, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, healthcare support workers and other family members. The group now sets out to trial a range of mealtime equipment, as well as finger food, whilst measuring the patient experience.

“Sometimes it takes someone with a different perspective to spark new ideas that could make a real difference. I am delighted that my experience might be able to help somebody else and that I can do something meaningful in Roger’s memory.”

Helping to make more improvements

Mary is also a member of Side-by-Side (the patient and public involvement group for Research and Improvement) and is passionate about helping others to take part in similar work across the Trust.

“Where there’s a need for research and improvement, there’s a need for patients and family members to be involved. After all, they are the key to all of the answers.”