Monday 10th September 2012
Running a successful nutrition awareness week for patients, carers and healthcare staff.
Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff covers the South East Wales oncology catchment area and sees over 2,000 inpatients each year.
As a newly-funded Macmillan dietitian I was set the task of planning and delivering a nutrition awareness week within the centre. It was felt that the profile of the department and the importance of nutrition in cancer needed to be raised on the wards. I was supported by the band 4 dietetic assistant Hannah Edwards-Jones.
The aims of the week, held just before Christmas, were to increase peoples’ knowledge of nutrition and cancer-related issues, and to raise the profile of dietitians. We wanted to make it interactive, festive and fun for all involved.
We focussed on five nutritional issues relevant to people with cancer, their carers and the multidisciplinary team looking after them. Topics included:
- Ho, Ho, Ho ... How to eat healthily at Christmas
- Dietitian versus nutritionist and alternative/complementary diets
- Symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- The ‘build-up’ diet
- Alternative modes of nutrition
- nutritional supplements and enteral feeding.
Making it interactive
There were plenty of visual aids including Macmillan and locally-written resources; nutritional supplements and feeds; fruit and vegetables; as well as daily competitions.
These included nutrition-related crosswords, guess the calories in a Supershake (1255kcal in 500ml in total) and guess the fruit or vegetable in the box. Prizes were awarded to the winners each day.
Around 260 staff, patients and visitors viewed the display boards and entered the competitions. Given that the number of inpatient beds is small compared to other hospitals, this was a large number of people to have reached in one week.
All feedback was extremely positive and indicated that the week was very successful.
One patient commented: ‘It was really useful knowing the services available and having someone to contact,’ and a multidisciplinary team member said: ‘I’ve really learned a lot this week.’ The dietetic department hopes that members of the multidisciplinary team will use the information gained to provide up-to-date, accurate first-line nutritional information to patients.
We also found it was a good forum for referrals to be raised. For patients and carers, the week provided them with basic nutrition information so they were better-informed of the importance of good nutrition during their cancer treatment.
I plan to hold the event annually, focusing on different topics each year. Doing this will help the multidisciplinary team expand their nutrition knowledge and include it as professional development, and patients will be able to get accurate nutritional advice.
Macmillan has a toolkit for professionals called Promoting your service. You can access this at Learn Zone
Email Rhian Price
, Macmillan Specialist Dietitian.
Thanks to Hannah Edwards-Jones, Sian Lewis, Eva Glass.