Patients at Chirk’s Community Hospital have helped boost a bid to host the UK’s biggest tea party.
They were treated to an impromptu gathering with tea, sandwiches and cake, organised as part of the national Nutrition and Hydration Week.
The Association of UK Dieticians, which was behind the event, is now waiting to hear if it has won the title of biggest tea party, with patients and staff at health centres across the UK taking part.
Its campaign aims to highlight the importance of good nutrition at all stages of life, from infancy to old age.
At Chirk Community Hospital elderly patients on Ceiriog Ward and their visitors enjoyed snacks and lashings of tea, coffee and fruit juices.
Ward sister Janice Griffiths, who has worked at the hospital for 13 years, says it is vitally important patients drink and eat enough to help their recovery.
She said: “The patients on Ceiriog Ward are mostly elderly and here for rehabilitation following surgery, with the majority of admissions coming from Wrexham Maelor Hospital or from local GP practices.
“Many of our patients also have early stage dementia so ensuring they are properly hydrated is vital otherwise they can become confused and quickly become quite poorly.
“People with dementia can be given a drink such as a cup of tea but become distracted and simply not drink it. We work to ensure they get the fluids they need and make sure patients are drinking the right amounts.
“We are lucky here at Chirk as the food prepared on site in our kitchens is excellent but we still want to ensure there are always healthy snacks, fruit and drinks available between meal times should a patient want something.”
Enjoying the impromptu tea party was Melanie Pugh of St Martin’s, Oswestry, a former nursing sister at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital at Gobowen, who is now the main carer to her dad Barrie Moulton, currently a Ceiriog Ward patient.
Barrie enjoyed chatting to fellow patients and hospital staff while sampling some of the tasty treats on offer.
Melanie said: “Dad, who lives at Hope in Flintshire, damaged his lumbar vertebrae and has been a patient on the Pantomime Ward at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for the past eight weeks.
“He has just transferred to Chirk for rehabilitation and is doing really well and he’s made fantastic progress in the short time he’s been here. He is also in the early stages of vascular dementia.
“I have two sisters, both of whom are also nurses, who help care for dad but I’m his main carer. In fact my mum, who is divorced from Dad, and my nain were also nurses too. It runs in the family!
“The first thing Dad said when he came to Chirk was how much he liked it as there was plenty to do. I’ve been impressed with both Wrexham Maelor and Chirk to be honest.
“They run a scheme called ‘This is Me’ where families of dementia patients can write down what the patient likes or dislikes. Things such as their hobbies, their favourite foods, things like that. It means nurses and ward staff can look at the booklet and understand the individual needs of each patient.”
She added: “I’m also so pleased they are taking nutrition and hydration so seriously. Dehydration, in particular, is a massive issue with dementia patients and can cause increased confusion as well as urinary infections.
“I also like the fact they have menu cards and staff sit and talk to patients to go through the available options. It means people get the food they like and they can also request larger or smaller portion sizes too.
“It prevents people getting over-fazed and put off by a plate piled high with more food than they would normally have.”
Reena Cartmell , Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board director of clinical services, east area, said: “A balanced diet is so important as it ensures our patients get the right nutrients.
“It’s also really important that people don’t become dehydrated. Hospitals tend to be quite warm places and people need to drink little and often.’’
“As part of Nutrition and Hydration Week, we held activities right across North Wales including tea parties for patents and visitors, with sandwiches and cakes, while in Wrexham our catering team offered finger foods for dementia patients, as many find these easier to eat.
‘We always welcome carers and family members of people with dementia ensuring there are no restrictions by visiting hours and supported mealtimes is very important.’’
“Our staff also took part, and enjoyed a range of healthy meals, thanks to support by Quorn. We’ve had display boards in canteens focusing on importance of hydration, with quizzes for staff. There’s also been audit of patient fluid intake to show that people have been receiving the appropriate amount of hydration.”