No-one would choose to be in hospital but, if we have to be, the majority of us can at least read the hospital menu and choose our preferred dishes. Unfortunately people who have difficulty communicating – including those who have aphasia, or English as an additional language, or who find reading hard – don't have that luxury. As a result, they miss out on making choices for themselves, and may also miss out on nutrition.
Recognising the problem, speech and language therapist Karen Rodger started to explore the possibility of making an aphasia-friendly hospital menu around 10 years ago. In 2006 she wrote the article 'Some hae meat' about her project for Speech & Language Therapy in Practice. Today I was delighted to catch up with Karen as the Nutrition Standards Service Improvement Programme rolled out the finished product to the main hospital in her NHS area.
High quality photographs of food choices on the hospital menu are presented in a large, durable ring binder. Copies are available in certain wards and through speech and language therapy and dietetics. Karen has worked with colleagues from dietetics and catering as well as with patients and carers to develop the resource. She is now hoping that the publicity surrounding the launch will make nursing staff aware of the availability of this simple but effective tool, and of the difference it can make to the lives of a variety of patients.