Patients living with dementia on medical and community wards across the Trust have been introduced to new coloured plates to help with their diets and independence. 

The blue-coloured plates will encourage patients to eat and maintain a balanced diet, as it is a common factor that patients struggle to consume meals. Many people with dementia experience difficulties with their sight and perception which may cause them to misinterpret their surroundings, therefore the colour blue has been chosen due to the fact that it is one of the last colours to remain in the memory.

Kim Knowles, Junior Sister Nurse at Royal Blackburn Hospital, said: “It is often that our patients do not want to eat as they are not stimulated, or they perception is altered due to damage on the brain, so they cannot see the plate the food is served on because it is white.

Our new plates will not only make sure patients living with dementia are able to eat the food they need, but that they are able to eat on their own, as the task usually falls on a carer.”

Colour is very useful when creating a dementia friendly environment, especially when it comes to a patient’s health. Research has found  that a high amount of patients do not finish the food on their plates even when staff or carers encourage them to do so, as well as 40% of individuals with severe Alzheimer’s losing a staggering amount of weight that is deemed unhealthy.

Nevertheless, research conducted by leaders of education and innovation regarding national dementia initiatives The Dementia Centre at the University of Stirling, has revealed that changing white plates for blue ones meant that residents could see the food they were eating (chicken, mashed potatoes, porridge, white bread and other typically pale-coloured favourite foods) suddenly stand out, and average intake rose by half a pound a day. Over the course of a four months trial, residents gained between 6-7lbs each, and overall nutrition was boosted.

Dementia Lead Nurse Sandra Nuttall commented: “As a Trust, we feel that promoting design principles is part of our philosophy of care for people living with Dementia who use ELHT services. The plates that we have recently introduced for use on some of our wards will see an improvement in patients’ eating habits and their nutrition.

ELHT already have a huge commitment in ‘Enhancing The Healing Environment’, using dementia-friendly principles each time we refurbish any area within the Trust.“

Source: East Lancashire trust NHS