The aim of this project was to address the problem of malnutrition in older patients by exploiting new and existing technologies to rethink and test new ways that food can be produced and delivered to older patients using a ‘a joined-up’ approach that considers all stages of the food journey, from production to consumption (i.e. products, people, places and procedures).
The project was formed of five Work Packages (WP):
WP1 Defining current systems
Observations of current NHS hospital systems and interviews with the food family and stakeholders were conducted to identify areas for change.
WP2 User engagement
Feedback on the new prototype (from WP 3 and 4) was obtained from the Food Family and stakeholders throughout the project, to assess its practicality and to refine it.
WP3 Developing new food products for older patients
New food products were designed within the “mini meal” concept of frequent provision of small energy and nutrient dense meals; for patients with and without swallowing difficulties. These products considered the optimum fortification of energy, protein and most appropriate micronutrients; as well as improved taste and texture for older patients. Patient liking of existing meals was taken into account as well the effect of conditions in the environment, such as odour.
WP4 Utilising innovative design and technology to optimise the food journey and the older patient’s eating environment
A new prototype for the ‘food journey’ from production to patient and the environment in which the patient eats was developed. Sketches, physical mock-ups and virtual 3D modelling of ward/patient environments were used to develop scenarios of the new service in operation. A fast and accurate technology-based prototype to monitor food intake of patients was also developed.
WP5 Potential application to other settings
Interviews and focus groups with the Food Family and Stakeholders collected feedback on the potential application of the new concepts to other settings (e.g. care homes).