"Ensuring patients get enough to eat"

About: Colchester General Hospital / Older people's healthcare

(as a friend),

Listening to the radio this a.m. re the unfortunate patient who was unable to feed herself in hospital I was reminded of a time earlier this year.

My neighbour, a lovely lady in her late 80s, had fallen in her bedroom. Emergency services were called and she was taken to Colchester General Hospital and admitted to a ward in Gainsborough Wing.

A few days after this we visited our friend in hospital. Hers was the only bed without a TV/telephone. On enquiry we were told that this equipment was expensive and there were none available. So the patient was unable to contact her brother who himself is in a Nursing Home, nor her daughter, to let them know what had happened.

Here I would add, there were extremely elderly patients all around our friend - most of whom were asleep and certainly would not be able at any time to operate the TV/telephone anyway. Why they could not have put one of those patients at our friend's station, and put her into a station which had the equipment, I do not know.

Anyway, around came the tea trolley and our friend was asked if she'd like a biscuit - yes she would she answered. It came in a vacuum sealed packet which was handed to her by a smiling lady who then went on about her business.

I watched our friend pick up the biscuit packet, look at it, fiddle with it, and then put it down again. Her poor arthritic hands could not manage the task of tearing the packet open so I did it for her.

Fleetingly I wondered how much of the food she had been given she had been able to eat. But she was due to be discharged in a couple of days and her son visited every night, so I let the subject alone - then.

I'd like to make a suggestion: could not the Hospital Friends be asked to visit wards and help with the feeding of patients too elderly/disabled/or whatever to cope with this on their own? I know full well it is not in the remit of nursing staff or the catering staff or any other it seems, so are these poor patients to lie there starving for the duration of their stay?

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