Hospital mealtimes: action research for change
Poor nutritional care within the hospital setting continues despite decades of work chronicling--and measuring the problems. To address the problem changes in practice have been attempted--to improve the patients experience of mealtimes. In order to implement patient-centred mealtimes for older patients by changing the focus from institutional convenience to one that focuses on the requirements of the patients, an action research approach has been used that focuses on action and change, and thus appears to have much to offer those who seek to change practice. The present paper focuses on the first two phases in a three-phase approach. In phase--one the nature of everyday mealtime care and the wider context are explored using focus groups, interviews and observations. The data fall into three main themes that all impact on patients experiences of mealtimes: institutional and organisational constraints; mealtime care and nursing priorities; eating environment. Following feedback of phase 1 findings to staff and identification of areas of concern a model of practice development was selected to guide the change process of the second phase. Changes to mealtime nursing practice and the ward environment have been made, indicating that action research has the potential to improve the mealtime care of patients.