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Cakes and shakes are secret ingredient to help hospital recovery

Cakes and milkshakes are being used to help frail and elderly patients recover more quickly at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

The ‘cake and shake’ scheme is now running on Ward 12 at the hospital - which specialises in caring for frail and elderly patients - where staff give patients a piece of cake and choice of milkshake every afternoon.

The cakes and milkshakes are provided to patients to increase their calorie intake to aid their recovery and help improve their mood.

A high-calorie intake is important while in hospital to help boost your body’s immune system and recover more quickly. It’s especially important for patients with an infection or any skin wounds. But ward staff noticed that elderly patients were sometimes not finishing their meals and preferred to pick at bits of food rather eating big meals.

So to ensure these patients were getting all the calories they needed to help their recovery, ‘cake and shake’ was launched after an endorsement from the dietitians and doctors on the ward.

As well as the physical recovery benefits of an increased calorie intake, the daily cake and shake often improves the mood of patients who look forward to their daily treat, with some being reminded of home comforts which can be especially helpful to patients with dementia or delirium.

Ward 12 Manager, Kirsty Sloan said: “I thought about my grandma who is 90-years-old and loves a piece of cake in the afternoon, so I thought that it would be a great idea to give our patients this treat. Patients are given special high-protein juices by doctors, but these can be warm and sickly, so we thought a nice full-fat cold milk and NesQuick would be a good boost for their fluid and calorific intake.

Biscuits and fruit are available for patients to eat any time on the ward, but frail patients sometimes find these too hard to eat if they have dentures or few teeth. Cake is softer and is much easier for those with altered dental wear to chew.

Kirsty added: “So far we’ve served over 2,200 slices of cake and shakes. It’s a conversation starter and a really sociable part of the day, it helps to get patients talking, staff talking, and relatives talking. A little piece of cake honestly brings big smiles to our patients and can make a long day seem much brighter!”

The scheme has received great feedback from the families and visitors of patients on the ward.