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The University of Southampton
Wessex Centre for Implementation Science

Supporting the Delivery of Nutrition for People Living with Dementia

Published: 27 April 2017
Person-centred care at mealtimes
Person-centred care at mealtimes

"... we had a lady that came into this home and she'd been diagnosed with dementia... her main meal would be put in front of her and the first thing she would do is actually tip one of the drinks she had beside her whether it be squash or wine or whatever onto her meal ... we actually discovered this lady had been a horticulturist in her working time, and the plates that we used at that time had a rim of flowers... she wasn't seeing the meal... she was seeing the flowers and she was watering the flowers. And the minute we changed our crockery, we tried it initially with her on to a plain white plate, it stopped."

The quote is taken from a recently published paper by Professor Jane Murphy and Joanne Holmes (Bournemouth University) and Cindy Brooks (UoS). The paper sought to understand the complex nutritional problems associated with eating and drinking for people with dementia. To achieve these aims, the research team conducted nine focus groups and five interviews with those involved in providing food and drink in nursing homes, including nurses, care workers, catering assistants, dietitians, language therapists and family carers. 

A collaboratively developed conceptual model was designed to display the main themes from the research. These included the overarching theme of person-centred nutritional care, availability of food and drinks, tools, resources and environment, relationship to others when eating and drinking, participation in activities, consistency of care and provision of information. 

What emerged from the research was the clear understanding that a person-centred approach can have a positive impact when providing food and drink to people living with dementia in nursing homes. And with good nutrition being a cornerstone of health and well-being, there may be significant benefits to be had in adopting a person-centred approach when providing food and drinks.

It is envisaged that the model will support the design of new education and training tools and the authors also call for further research to evaluate the implementation and adoption of this work. 





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