Finger food proves hugely beneficial to dementia patients in hospital in Bangor
A new food menu that incorporates lots of finger food has been introduced at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor to help patients living with dementia.
The new orange menu has been designed by staff from across different departments in the hospital. It makes it easier for patients who may find it difficult to manage regular meals and mealtimes to still get access to plenty of nutritious food and snacks as and when they want it throughout the day and night.
The need for a new approach is explained by Nicholas de Mora-Mieszkowski, the hospital's Clinical Specialist Speech & Language Therapist.
“This menu helps our patients to feed themselves when their condition means they may not recognise food otherwise, or items like knives and forks. Being able to feed yourself is not only more dignified but it is safer.
“The neurological system is given more messages that you are about to have something to eat so your swallowing is better coordinated. When the swallow is better coordinated you are better able to manage normal foods and drinks.
“Swallowing is a skill, and as with anything else if we don’t use this skill we may lose the ability to swallow or it can deteriorate. Being able to offer food this way is preserving an essential body function for patients who are at very high risk of losing it if not appropriately supported.”
Ysbyty Gwynedd's new menu is proving hugely beneficial for patients with dementia.
Patient dignity is maintained as they are encouraged to eat independently when and how they feel able, whilst families can now have confidence that their loved one's nutritional requirements are being met in a safe and dignified manner.
Anwen Weightman, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Public Health Dietetic Assistant, said,
“The orange menu offers a choice of the full hospital menu, finger foods and a variety of snacks. Many of the ambient snacks can be kept in between meals or night snacks if the patient may not have a regular meal pattern and needs to be offered little food more often throughout the day or they are awake during the night.
“Since we have introduced these menus the dementia support workers have found them to be invaluable on the ward encouraging the patient with a diagnosis of dementia to eat and it is also reassuring for the family or carers to see that they are being offered a choice at mealtimes.”