The Health Tree Foundation The Health Tree Foundation

Dietitians live on supplements alone to improve patient care

Hospital staff are going nil by mouth to solid food as they attempt to eat and drink only supplements for three days to boost the coffers for the charity pot at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.  

Twelve people will be taking part, including dietitians and admin staff from the nutrition and dietetics team at the hospital.

Lindsay Simpson, paedatric dietician and leader of the challenge, said: “We all try the supplements during training so we are used to tasting them but we never have more than a spoonful so we don’t really know what it’s like to live on supplements alone.”

Dietary supplements are in most cases used as an addition to normal food stuffs but the team estimated that around a quarter of their patients have to live on supplements alone, some for a minimum of three months. A patient with Crohn’s disease, for example, might be prescribed a 12 week liquid therapy diet.

The supplements are typically liquids such as yoghurts, milkshakes and soups. The majority are very sweet in taste with limited savoury options available. They are used to help both adults and children gain weight or to nourish patients who either can’t face food or simply lose their appetite. Some receive the supplements through a tube if they are unable to swallow.

Lindsay said: “We want to improve our understanding and practice, we put the patients at the heart of what we do and are always looking for ways to better empathise with what they are going through.

“Hopefully we will learn some hints and tips while taking the supplements that we can pass onto our patients.

“It will be interesting to see the impact it has physically on our bodily functions as well as the psychological impact of eating nothing solid for three days.”

As well as giving up solid foods the team will also be only drinking water, and giving up tea or coffee for three days.

They intend to keep a diary of their experiences so that they can share what they learn across the country to help other dietitians understand how to best support their patients.

The team are raising money for The Health Tree Foundation at the hospital. They are asking people to sponsor their challenge. Their aim is to raise £1,000 for the wards at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital. If you would like to support them please visit their just giving page

Lindsay added: “Any donation big or small can make a huge difference.”

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