SASH Charity supports initiative to improve nutrition of people living with dementia

Chris with blue plates

SASH Charity supports initiative by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare (SASH) NHS Trust to review and improve the nutritional intake of people living with dementia and delirium in line with the SASH dementia strategy.

Chris O’Connor, nurse consultant for dementia and older people said: “We know that some people living with dementia have a poor diet and there was some anecdotal evidence that using coloured plates as opposed to standard white plates because of the colour contrast makes the food more visible enabling patients to see the food.

The money from SASH Charity was used to purchase enough blue crockery for two wards. We then carried out an audit over lunch times, during the first part of the trial food was served on standard white plates and then all the crockery was replaced with the blue plates. The patients’ plates were weighed before and after the meal and the amount of food consumed documented.

We found that patients with memory problems, including dementia and temporary states such a delirium consumed more food when using the blue plates however for people without memory problems there was no significant difference.”

Other improvements to come out of the audit include the use of snack boxes and a hot finger food menu to provide flexible alternatives to the main menu and to those who cannot manage a large meal, this also helps patients who would like to maintain independence. As well as a review of portion size, the menu has been made more simple and clear and a pictorial menu is being developed.

Chris also said: “This audit has had really positive results so far, we hope to extend the trial because a better diet will improve the health and wellbeing of our patients living with dementia. We plan to introduce blue plates across the trust as standard.”