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Implications for practice and research
This study demonstrates an increase in energy and protein intake among older in-patients with mealtime assistance.
Further well-conducted studies are needed to establish the cost-effectiveness of mealtime assistance.
Volunteers spent more time with patients at mealtimes than nurses, were positively perceived, and could be trained and employed more widely.
Malnutrition is common among older patients in hospital in many countries and associated with poor healthcare outcomes and increased costs. Factors such as acute illness are recognised but a lack of mealtime support is important and time-pressured nurses often struggle to provide sufficient help. Mealtime assistants can place food near to patients, open packets and cut up food, as well as help transfer food …
Funding HR and FR receive support from the University of Southampton and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Wessex. HR receives support from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.