Food and Nutrition Project

A healthy, nutritious diet is essential for all children’s growth and development. But for sick children, good nutrition is even more important as it can aid recovery.

A new project has been underway to ensure patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) get the very best in nutritional care.

Why nutrition is so important

During illness and recovery, nutritional requirements increase. This may be due to increased losses through vomiting and diarrhoea, or an increase in metabolic rate that uses up a child’s energy stores more quickly.
Sick children are particularly vulnerable to nutritional deficit and there is evidence to suggest that children in UK hospitals often have a poor nutritional status.
Poor nutrition leads to weight loss, a reduced immune response to infection, delayed wound healing and increased risk of pressure sores, and an increased length of hospital stay,

The Food and Nutrition Project at GOSH

The Food and Nutrition Project includes a series of initiatives that aim to improve the nutrition experience of all infants, children and young people. This includes choice and access to good quality food, as well as the experience of meal times on the wards.

The key aims of the project are to:

  • Raise awareness of our Trust Nutrition Policy.

  • Implement a nutrition screening tool for each child who is admitted for over three days.

  • Ensure protected meal times across the Trust.

  • Develop a team of nutrition ambassadors to help implement the project and improve the overall nutrition of GOSH patients.

  • To gather feedback to ensure patient meals provide sufficient choice for children of all ages and cultures.

A little more detail

Raising awareness of the Trust Nutrition Policy

A new Trust policy is now available for staff, alongside clear, workable local guidelines. All professionals involved in caring for children are encouraged to become familiar with the policy and the rationale for its use within the hospital. To ensure compliance with national quality recommendations and encourage best practice, performance and improvements are being audited.

Nutrition screening

Through the project, all patients have their height and weight recorded on admission. Weight is then measured routinely every week and length/height every three months (monthly for infants). A nutrition screening tool has been implemented for all children and young people admitted for three days or more. Those identified as being at nutritional risk are referred to a dietitian. Each week throughout their admission patients are assessed for nutritional risk.

Protected meal times

All patients will have protected meal times. During protected meal times, patients must not be subjected to any clinical interventions, treatments or disruptions unless in a clinical emergency. Priority during this time is for the patient to eat and for this to be a positive experience. This will be designed at a local level to ensure solutions are tailored to the needs of the ward. The views of children, parents and staff will be recorded to improve the environment and ensure children can get the food and drink that they need.