There has been plenty of exposure in the media regarding improving food for our children and promoting animal and fish welfare, and this is very welcome news. I felt that it would be a logical progression to promote quality food for all our patients, even when they are very unwell or unable to eat normally.
It is said that the state of a country can be judged by the state of its roads and that progress of society within a country can be judged by the way its elderly and sick are treated. The emotional and well-being benefit to someone of being able to enjoy tasty food rather than artificial formulations cannot be overstated, for our own sick or frail patients. I would definitely want a real food alternative rather than artificial feed for a relative or friend of mine, so why not my patients?
I would like to make available simple, cheap, tasty and calorific recipes that are approved by doctors, nurses, speech and language therapists and dietitians. There is good clinical evidence that an additional 250-600kcals daily provides better health outcomes for people at risk of malnutrition.
The aim of Eating with Dignity is to increase awareness and give some choice, sensory quality and, hopefully, enjoyment to people at times in their lives where there may be little pleasure.
With any recipe, it will be important to follow nutrition guidelines (for example the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool). Clearly, Eating with Dignity will not be a panacea – far from it. This is not the point and is not my aim. What I do hope to achieve is to show that there are medically validated safe food alternatives to artificial feeds so that patients, (or, vitally important, their families or carers) can have the confidence to try something different.
The more I think about it, the more important I feel it is to recommend and offer quality food alternatives to sip feeds to our patients when they are at their most vulnerable. There is no underlying financial aim behind this project. It does not aim to change existing prescribing habits but merely to offer choice. There is no conflict of interest. The project is inclusive of all creeds and communities.
Eating with Dignity is a small independent charity.
Dr Joe Kent MBChB MRCGP (2006) DFSRH (2005) General Practitioner