Inspectors find some elderly patients wait for meals at Homerton Hospital

Some elderly patients have to wait up to an hour for lunch on wards at Homerton Hospital according to inspectors.

Experts from health watchdog the Quality Care Commission visited Aske ward for older people and the Graham ward for stroke rehabilitation in March as part of reviews into how 12 hospitals ensured the nutritional needs of patients were being met and that they were treated with dignity.

They interviewed four patients and five staff members during their visit and found that the hospital met the essential standards of care and quality they were looking at.

They noted that patients were weighed regularly and their fluid intake was checked.

However they made some suggestions after observing that some patients could not begin lunch until 1.30pm as there was limited capacity to heat meals on Aske ward and “were uncomfortably hungry”.

Several patients mentioned there was little choice of kosher food.

Staff use a blue and red tray system to help identify people who need support or longer to eat their meal.

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They also encouraged some patients to help them eat. Inspectors noted they had not seen any plate guards or adapted cutlery which could help patients and pictures on menu cards were “not really large enough to help patients who were unable to read or unable to describe what they wanted verbally.”

They also noted some staff standing over patients and suggested they sit with them when encouraging them to eat.

The inspectors said: “The trust was not fully promoting people’s independence in relation to choosing food, eating and drinking.”

They also looked at how patients were treated and noted that patients were they were treated kindly, with staff taking the trouble to chat with patients when they came on duty, using curtains to protect privacy and doctors introducing themselves clearly.

But they noted patients wanted more information about their medication.

Inspectors also witnessed staff making observations across patients’ heads and one nurse praising a patient “in a way more appropriate for a child.”

They said these were exceptions, “staff generally treated people with kindness and respect and worked hard to maintain people’s privacy.”

The hospital’s chief nurse Charlie Sheldon welcomed the report and said the hospital would address the issues raised.

He said: “For the people of Hackney and the surrounding area, the report provides assurance that the Homerton looks after elderly patients with care and concern.

The inspection found that the Homerton Hospital was meeting both of the essential standards of quality and safety that they reviewed in relation to privacy and nutrition.”