17 May 2019

Around 80% of hospital patients will have swallowing difficulties in the last 72 hours of life, so the trust that runs Shropshire’s two acute hospitals has introduced an alternative to nil by mouth which improves both patient experience, and allows loved ones to be involved in their care.

‘Taste for Pleasure’ means that when receiving end of life mouth care (cleaning and hydrating the mouth), hospital staff at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford (PRH), can use the patient’s favourite flavours to provide moisture. These flavours can be anything from blackcurrant squash to tea, all the way up to whiskey!

The Trust’s End of Life Care, and Speech and Language Therapy teams are working to change the culture of nil by mouth and roll out Taste For Pleasure across both hospitals after Jules Lock, End of Life Care Lead Volunteer, came up with the idea while spending a week sitting with a patient.

Jules said: “When it comes to end of life care there aren’t really any rules, and those that there are are made to be broken.

“By introducing ‘Taste for Pleasure’ to a patient’s routine, as well as aiding their hospital care we can open up a conversation about their life, what their favourite food and drink is, and can remind them and their loved ones of joyful past experiences. One memorable patient received their mouth care with prosecco while their family members joined them with a glass of fizz. What a wonderful way to remember your loved one!

“Where possible, ward staff can share patient mouth care with the family. Helping a loved one at the end of their life is so important and can allow family and friends to feel useful during a time in which they have little control.”

If a loved one is currently receiving end of life care at SaTH, please ask your doctor or nurse about Taste for Pleasure.

Jules has written a blog about Taste for Pleasure, which can be found here