Belfast Telegraph

Good nutrition vital to get better and live well - Poots

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Good nutritional care is essential for those who need support with eating and drinking to maintain their energy levels so they can get better and live well.

That was the message from Health Minister, Edwin Poots, as he launched ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources’ at the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Annual Conference in Belfast today. Focussing on the theme of Promoting Person Centred Cultures in Practice, it was the first CNO conference hosted by new Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, Charlotte McArdle. 

The ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Strategy’, launched by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) in 2011, identified MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool) as the tool of choice to identify adults in Northern Ireland who are at risk of malnutrition. ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources’ will support nurses and midwives in the use of MUST screening across community and care home settings.

Speaking to an audience of over 230 nurses, Mr Poots said that the Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources supports person-centred care planning, in relation to nutritional screening, in line with NICE guidelines. 

He said: “Good nutritional care is about identifying those people in our care, who because of illness, disability or frailty, need support with eating and drinking to maintain their energy levels so they can get better and live well. 

“As the nursing profession knows, nutritional screening is the first step in the identification of malnutrition. The screening process enables the detection of risk of malnutrition and supports practitioners to implement a clear plan of effective action, such as simple dietary measures or referral for expert dietetic advice.”

The Minister continued: “It is a clear demonstration of everyone working together to improve the quality of nutrition for adults through screening, across all care settings, that has resulted in the development of ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources’.

“The theme of today’s conference, ‘Promoting Person Centred Cultures in Practice,’ reminds us all that we must place patients and their interests at the heart of all that we do and involve them in their care.”

The Minister also took the opportunity to pay tribute to nurses and midwives for the work that they do. He said: “Nurses and midwives continue to provide professional yet compassionate care to patients, in the face of significant daily challenges. As we move forward with Transforming Your Care, I believe nurses and midwives are central to the successful delivery of this programme of reform to achieve a modern, effective health and care system that benefits everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Speaking at the conference, Chief Nursing Officer, Charlotte McArdle said: “I am delighted to host my first conference as Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland. The theme of today’s conference reflects what I think is an important objective for all of us, not just nurses and midwives. However, today is about nursing and midwifery and how we ensure that the standard of care we provide is as good as we would expect for our own families. The patient and client voice should be central in all our work and this should be based on a caring compassionate partnership with patients, clients and families.”

The CNO also spoke at the conference about the importance of good record keeping as a means of communication for all those who are involved in delivering care. Ms McArdle said: “Good recording keeping is a fundamental part of providing care; it is not an add-on. It brings the opportunity to share information and communicate with colleagues and the patient, client or family, any issues which may impact on clinical outcomes and experience.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) annually hosts a conference for the nursing and midwifery professions in Northern Ireland. 

2. The conference provides an opportunity for those staff working at the front line of health and social care delivery to hear directly from the Health Minister around the key strategic issues within health and social care. 

3. This year’s event was attended by over 230 nurses and featured seven speakers, including key speaker Dr Elaine Maxwell, and 25 poster presentations for a competition and a choir called ‘Voice of Recovery’. 

4. The ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources’ project was led by the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery (NIPEC). The Project Steering Group that developed the Guidance and Resources was chaired by Pauline Mulholland, British Dietetic NI Board Chair, and represented the five HSC Trusts, Public Health Agency (PHA), Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), GPs, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and education providers.

5. The ‘Promoting Good Nutrition Guidance and Resources’ can be accessed on the DHSSPS website at:

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