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Inpatient dietetic services

Nutrition and dietetics

What information about nutrition and dietetics is available for patients?

The department publishes a number of useful leaflets and sheets which will be offered to you or can be requested from your dietitian as is appropriate to your care. It also has access to information published by other organisations. If you have other communication requirements, please let our staff know.

Which wards receive dietetic services?

Most wards have an allocated dietitian responsible for all dietetic services to that area.

If I am referred to a dietitian as an inpatient, how long will I have to wait to be seen?

Once referred to a dietitian by a member of the ward staff, we aim to see you within one working day of the referral being made.

What if I need dietary advice at the weekend?

Advice and protocols are available at ward level. An inpatient emergency on-call advisory service is available at weekends if required.

How will I know what menu options are available during my stay in hospital?

A 14-day menu booklet will be given to you by the ward housekeeper which outlines all the menu options available at lunch and supper time, in order to help you make your meal choices.

What happens if I miss a meal?

If for any reason you were off the ward when the lunch or evening meals were served, we will offer you a hot (light bite) or cold option to make sure you receive the meal you missed. This service is available 24 hours a day. If you need to receive a meal from this service please ask a member of staff.

What happens if I don’t eat well in hospital?

If you are not eating well in hospital make sure that you tell the nursing staff. This will ensure that you get the support you need quickly. If you eat well in hospital you are more likely to recover more quickly and go home sooner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during mealtimes. The ward staff are happy to help with eating or drinking, this could be helping to feed you, opening containers or to cutting up food. We have food choices for patients who have difficulty chewing or swallowing and adapted cutlery to make it easier for patients to feed themselves.

Patients are nutritionally screened on admission and weekly thereafter . If your score shows that you are at high risk of malnutrition you will be referred to a dietitian for support. The ward staff will also help by offering you extra snacks, nourishing drinks and high protein and energy meal options. You will also be served your meals on a red tray to highlight to staff members that we need to be closely monitoring your food intake and so that assistance is offered at meal times if needed.

If I am following a special diet how can I ensure that I get the correct food in hospital?

We cater for many different special dietary requirements including diets suitable for people with coeliac disease, low potassium and no added salt diets as well as diets for allergies and intolerances. We have a soft, a healthy eating and a vegetarian choice available at each meal service and we also offer separate a la carte menus vegan, puree, halal and kosher menus. If you have a dietary requirement please inform a member of staff upon admission.

How will I recognise my dietitian when they arrive on the ward?

The uniform for dietitians at Addenbrooke’s dietitians includes a purple short sleeved shirt. An Addenbrooke’s ID badge is worn at all times and the dietitian will introduce themselves.

How can I be referred to the dietitian as an inpatient?

Any healthcare professional working at Addenbrooke’s can refer a patient to the dietitian if they feel this is appropriate. The Trust policy states that each patient will be ‘nutritionally screened’ within 48hrs of admission and the results of this screening acted upon. Screening involves a nurse answering a few questions via a screening tool about the patient, often with the help of the patient themselves. These will be questions about whether you have lost weight recently and how you are eating. If the results show you are at risk of malnutrition they will refer you to a dietitian for support. If you are an inpatient at Addenbrooke’s or a relative of yours is and you feel they need to see a dietitian please mention this to a member of the team who are looking after them and they will be able to make the referral if deemed appropriate.

What about problems, complaints and suggestions?

If you are unhappy with the service that you or the person you care for receives, or have suggestions of ways in which we can improve our service, please discuss this with your dietitian in the first instance. You can also contact the manager of the department of Nutrition & Dietetics. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can also help you and help us improve our services.