N-ice way to help St Richard’s Hospital patients

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Nurses at St Richard’s Hospital have come up with a novel way of helping patients get the calories they need – using ice cream.

A group of nurses on the Ashling Ward have come up with their very own range of smoothies which combine ice cream and the prescription-only high-calorie yogurts which are given to frail patients to help boost their strength.

The eureka moment happened when deputy ward sister Michelle Harris noticed the yogurts were not being eaten because patients did not always like the taste.

Michelle then hit upon the idea of using ice cream – which everyone likes – to mix in with the yogurt.

She and her colleagues then spent a weekend blitzing different recipes and taste-testing them on staff, patients and carers before sending off the most popular-flavoured smoothies to dieticians for analysis.

Each small drink contains up to 200 calories and the range includes strawberry, apricot and mandarin, banana, apple and blackcurrant, and mocha.

The high-calorie drinks are offered to patients who need to build up their strength but cannot eat the normal prescription yogurts. It means patients who would otherwise be at risk of not getting enough nutrition are now getting all their calories as well as gaining extra strength from the ice cream and real fruit.

The idea has proved so popular that colleagues in other wards are taking away copies of recipe cards for their patients as well.

In addition, the nurses in Ashling Ward have been nominated for a Nursing Times award and have been named as Western Sussex Hospitals Trust’s employees of the month.

Michelle said: “We could see there was a problem, and that a lot of patients weren’t really drinking their special drinks.

“We also knew the one food which always, always goes down well was ice cream, so all our team got everyone involved and got a bit creative.

“If patients have just had surgery, are very frail, or need palliative care, it is often a struggle to make sure they get the nutrition they need, but our team has worked hard to make these smoothies a big success.

“The beauty of it is patients or their carers can take the recipes home with them, so they can keep their strength up.”

She also contacted electrical company Kenwood to see if it could help and it was only too happy to provide a powerful blender free of charge, which is being well-used to make the smoothies.

The smoothies have been so popular Kenwood is now supplying a new model, at cost price, which will also crush ice. The Ashling team will now seek to use the new machine to whip up smoothies suitable for patients with diabetes.

The trust’s advanced dietician Allen Downer said: “All our patients are screened for malnutrition risk, and reviewed regularly to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need.”