GWH ward offers sweet treat for hip fracture patients

A Great Western Hospital ward is offering a unique treatment to help hip fracture patients recover – good old fashioned tea and cake.

Patients on the Trauma Unit in the Brunel Treatment Centre are treated to a weekly tea party to help get them out of bed and build up their strength again.

Statistics show that nearly a third of people who fracture their hip die within a year, with a fifth of patients never being able to return to their own home.

Since November 2016, medics in Swindon have made up one sixth of the experts taking part in the two-year Scaling Up initiative, which allows hospitals from across the country to share learning, improvements and examples of best practice in treating hip fracture patients.

As hip fractures require the attention of multiple specialists, the project has seen teams from every corner of the Trust work to introduce changes that will not only shorten recovery time, but improve a patient’s quality of life once they are home.

One such change is the introduction of a Nutritional Assistant to support regular and healthy eating in elderly people, who are most susceptible to such an injury.

With good nutrition at the heart of any recovery plan, this post ensures that elderly patients, some of whom may lack the capacity to ask for food when hungry, get the essential nourishment needed to stay healthy in hospital.

Emma Wiltshire, Trauma Coordinator Lead for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A big issue with hip fracture patients is nutrition and part of their recovery in building up their strength again is by upping their calorie intake – more than 500 extra a day.

“One of the Trusts involved in the project came up with the idea of a regular tea party for hip fracture patients as one way they could get the extra calories they need. Tea and cake seems the perfect way to do this so we thought we would give it a go too.”

Staff hold pop-up tea parties on the ward once a week, and each one has a different theme, with photos and objects selected to spark a conversation.

Terri Lloyd, the Nutritional Assistant on the Trauma Unit, said: “Not only do the tea parties up their nutrition and hydration but it encourages patients to get out of their beds and talk to one another.

“Patients are also encouraged to take part in music and singing at the tea parties which they thoroughly enjoy. As a result, we have also introduced a new exercise to music class, so we now have events twice a week on the Trauma Unit.

“Sometimes a hip fracture can mean a lengthy stay in hospital so this really helps pass the time and acts as a talking point.”

Alex Ashmore, Consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedics and Project Lead for the Trust, said: “Hip fractures are a common condition, especially in older people, and can often lead to a person losing their independence or having to greatly alter the way they live their life.

“Since being involved in the Scaling Up project, it’s great to see the number of patients receiving an extra meal a day has gone from 10 per cent to 60 per cent, thanks to the hard work of our new Nutritional Assistant, Terri, who started earlier this year. Nutrition plays a vital role in these patients’ recovery, and this is an important part of a range of improvements we have introduced recently.”

The Scaling Up project is based on prize-winning improvement work of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which produced a number of positive results including improved survival rates and faster access to imaging and surgery.

It proved so successful that it was given funding by the Health Foundation to be rolled out nationally.