Healthcare support workers present innovative hydration and nutrition programme for patients with dementia at international conference

Two healthcare support workers from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have spoken about the impact an innovative nutrition and hydration programme has had, on patients with dementia, at an international conference on dementia.

Josh Pettit, 24, and Lucy Gilby 41, presented the Trust’s dementia nutritional support in hospital pathway (known as NoSH) at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference held in Budapest, Hungary. The duo told experts at the conference about how and why the Trust implemented the NoSH pathway and the benefits that patients have experienced. They also explored future plans for the programme.

Poor nutrition is experienced by many patients with dementia who can find it difficult to eat and drink enough to keep themselves well-nourished and hydrated. Issues include forgetting when they last ate and struggling to eat large meals. The NoSH pathway was introduced by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and food provider Sodexo to help ensure patients with dementia eat and drink enough during their hospital stay.

Josh said about presenting at the conference: “It was a privilege to present the NoSH project at such a renowned international conference. We received excellent feedback from the experts present and I really hope that we will see similar programmes introduced across the globe as a result.”

All patients who are admitted to the Trust with a diagnosis of dementia are automatically placed on the first level of the NoSH programme, known as ‘core support’ and for those who require a little more help ‘enhanced’ and ‘intensive’ support can also be provided. Support for patients includes using aromatherapy and music to stimulate appetite during meal times, offering five smaller meals per day which can be easier to manage and setting eating and drinking goals for patients.

Lucy who also presented said: “The opportunity to present at such a prestigious conference is a career defining moment and an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot thank the Trust enough for embracing the NoSH programme and enabling us to support our patients in such a pioneering way.”

Lead dementia nurse at the Trust, Jo James who developed the NoSH programme said:
“Josh and Lucy gave an outstanding presentation that caught the attention of the expert audience and generated lots of follow-up interest. Both have worked incredibly hard to drive the NoSH project forward. Without them and their passion NoSH would not have been the success it has been, nor would so many of our patients have benefitted from their skills, expertise and kindness.”

Since NoSH launched in November 2015 the team has supported over 160 patients. The NoSH programme was developed in partnership with Sodexo and is funded by Imperial College Healthcare Charity.


Notes to editors:

The ‘core support’ elements of the project includes monitoring patients’ weight and food and fluid intake to help ensure they are getting the right level of nutrition. Patients are also given access to nutritious foods on demand and sugar-free squashes to add to water to help keep their fluid levels up. The ‘enhanced’ and ‘intensive’ levels of the programme provide further support for patients who struggle to eat and drink enough; development of nutrition and hydration goals for the patient in conjunction with their family, carers and the nursing team; use of music during meals which is scientifically proven to reduce agitation; providing five smaller meals a day (rather than the traditional three) which can be easier for some patients with dementia to manage. For more information please see our press release.