Improving mealtimes for patients and staff within an eating disorder unit: understanding of the problem and first intervention during the pandemic—an initial report
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Gardner L, Trueman HImproving mealtimes for patients and staff within an eating disorder unit: understanding of the problem and first intervention during the pandemic—an initial report. BMJ Open Quality 2021;10:e001366
Background Mealtimes occur six times a day on eating disorder (ED) inpatient units and are a mainstay of treatment for EDs. However, these are often distressing and anxiety provoking times for patients and staff. A product of patients’ distress is an increase in ED behaviours specific to mealtimes. The aim of this quality improvement project was to decrease the number of ED behaviours at mealtimes in the dining room through the implementation of initiatives identified through diagnostic work. Methods The Model for Improvement was used as the systematic approach for this project. Baseline assessment included observations in the dining room, gathering of qualitative feedback from staff and patients and the development of an ED behaviours form used by patients and staff. The first change idea of a host role in the dining room was introduced, and the impact was assessed. Results The introduction of the host role has reduced the average number of ED behaviours per patient in the dining room by 35%. Postintervention feedback demonstrated that the introduction of the host role tackled the disorganisation and chaotic feeling in the dining room which in turn has reduced distress and anxiety for patients and staff. Conclusions This paper shows the realities of a quality improvement (QI) project on an ED inpatient unit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are positive for changes made; however, a large challenge, as described has been staff engagement.
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