Staff from Haig House within The Erskine Home along with a team from University of the West of Scotland and NHS Ayrshire and Arran, are celebrating after winning a Highly Commended Award from the Mental Health Nursing Forum Scotland.
The award in the Dementia Care and Support Category was awarded for the team’s Food For Thought Project which explores innovative ways of eliciting food and drink preferences for people living with advanced dementia.
Food is essential for physical well-being and most of us take for granted that we can choose what we eat, where and when. For people with dementia living in a care home, some of these essential choices can be lost.
Staff within Haig House – a 30 bedded dementia house within The Erskine Home in Bishopton – recognised this problem and set about doing things differently in order to enhance the dining experience for residents. The project began by working with six residents and their families to adopt a sensory approach to mealtimes.
Karen Herron, Speech and Language Therapist at Erskine explains: “It wasn’t just the content of the menu we were looking at, but the way the whole dining experience affected our residents – the sounds, sights, touch and smells associated with mealtimes, not just the tastes.”
Working with staff from Haig and NHS Ayrshire and Arran as well as colleagues from the University of the West of Scotland, Karen helped to develop a sensory package.
Haig House Manager and Project Leader Valerie Logan said: “The project was a real team effort. The active involvement of domestic and catering staff was crucial to the success as was the support and ideas of staff within Haig. Not only did communication at mealtimes among residents, families and staff improve, but also the six residents maintained weight over the 12 weeks, despite being close to the end stage of dementia.
‘We were determined that the momentum and collaborative ethos the project generated was maintained and built on. To receive this award has been the icing on the cake for what has been an incredibly successful project which has improved the lives of our residents living with dementia.”