Implementation of trained mealtime volunteers to help older hospital patients in a range of ward areas
15 Oct 2018

Implementation of trained mealtime volunteers to help older hospital patients in a range of ward areas

Published Date: 15 Oct 2018

Hospitals know many older people don’t eat enough - 39% of over 65s admitted to hospital are at risk of malnutrition. This leads to slower recovery and having to stay in hospital longer. There is evidence that volunteers can help but no guidance for Hospitals on how many volunteers they would need, where to find them, how to recruit them or how to keep them.

The programme was adopted by University Hospitals Southampton as part of 2017-18 Quality Improvement Framework

Contribution of CLAHRC Wessex

  • 65 volunteers aged between 17 -77 recruited and trained
  • Delivered 846 sessions of mealtime assistance to older patients in 4 separate hospital departments
  • 43% of volunteers were 6th form students and 17% retired people

Comparative work against other similar schemes is being undertaken to create information on what works and what doesn’t

What happened next?

  • Improving the clinical care of older inpatients released nursing time for clinical duties, equivalent to a cost-saving of £27-45 per patient per day
  • The programme was adopted by University Hospitals Southampton as part of 2017-18 Quality Improvement Framework
  • The study is being spread nationally and internationally through scientific presentations and publications including recently published NIHR themed review on caring for older people living with frailty in acute service hospitals
  • Identification as an exemplar programme with award of £50,000 to further develop volunteers
  • Development of evidence and experience-based recruitment and training programmes for volunteers and exercise programmes for patients, which are being disseminated