As part of the Ageing and dementia theme of the NIHR Wessex CLAHRC (Collaboration for leadership in applied health research and care) we are building on this in a new study to evaluate the implementation of mealtime assistants in five different hospital departments (Medicine for Older People, the Acute Medical Unit, Adult Medicine, Trauma & Orthopaedics and Surgery).
The study will focus on patients over the age of 70 years on these wards. We will be assessing how practical it is to recruit, train and retain mealtime assistants on such a large scale, as well as assessing how patients, relatives and staff feel about them. We will be interviewing patients and relatives, nursing staff and volunteers to capture their experiences of mealtime assistance. We will also be recording food choice and measuring the amount of food patients eat before and after the introduction of the mealtime assistants in each department. At the end of the study, we hope to be able to describe the process of successfully establishing a team of mealtime assistants in these different departments as a blueprint for other hospitals