RESEARCH: Nutrition link nurses are being used in Yorkshire to help introduce guidelines at ward level to tackle malnutrition among patients.

The “nutrition champions” are working at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, where they form a link between health professionals on the wards and the catering department.

An evaluation of the role was presented last Wednesday at the Royal College of Nursing’s international research conference in London.

This involved one-to-one interviews and focus groups with a range of hospital staff, including the link nurses themselves, nurse managers, dietitians and catering managers.

The authors said: “Successful nutrition champions are drawn from various roles and grades, enabling them to influence their peers. Key characteristics, such as enthusiasm and confidence, help create an impetus for change within their ward areas.

“They adapt knowledge and resources to their local needs, and promote implementation of new guidelines through challenging and evaluating the practice of their colleagues.”

However, they added: “Barriers relate to high workload, competing demands, and complex dynamics between ward teams and catering.

“Good support is essential from ward managers, as is an ongoing emphasis on nutrition as an organisational priority.”