Leaders: ‘Volunteers already play a valuable role’

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When we are ill, eating well is more important than ever. A wholesome diet can go a very long way towards ensuring a full and speedy recovery.

Yet it is when we are poorly that we often find it hardest to keep eating properly, especially for the older ones among us.

That can be for reasons as simple as feeling too weak and tired to make the effort or because our 
appetite comes and goes.

Too often hospitals do not pay enough attention to getting this basic part of care right.

Last year’s damning report on care of the elderly at the ERI highlighted some glaring examples of how badly wrong things can go.

Care inspectors saw one patient left unable to eat his soup because it was placed on his left side when that arm was in plaster, and another partially-sighted patient eating with their fingers because they could not see their cutlery.

More clearly needs to be done to ensure that all patients are getting the nutrition they need during their hospital stay.

Although they are only providing a “top-up” service, which can never replace the work of nurses, there is a place for volunteers.

Trained volunteers already play a very valuable role in Lothian 
hospitals.

There is little doubt that getting them more involved at mealtimes could make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable 
patients.

But the greatest service that these mealtime volunteers might offer to patients in general is simply through their presence on the wards.

Having them around will help to ensure that all staff stay focused on this important task despite the other pressures on their limited time.

Clear messages

THEY rarely waver from their purpose of delivering short and snappy safety and traffic information as motorists speed by at 70mph.

But does that really mean our motorway signs have to be so 
mundane?

Sir Chris Hoy tweeted his ridicule at a sign warning him to keep his “windscreen clear” this week – how else, you wonder, would he have been able to read it in the first place?

We’re glad it is being looked at and maybe it is actually time to introduce a bit of humour into the messages, on occasions when there is no pressing traffic or weather information to deliver of course.

How about for instance, if you’re stuck in traffic coming into Edinburgh – “Keep calm . . . you’ll soon be on a tram”?

Well, maybe not.