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Posted on Jun 22 2022 by Gabrielle Willis

The “power of diet” is being promoted across the charity to mark National Dietitian Week which kicked off on Monday, June 20, 2022.

The St Andrew’s Healthcare Dietetics team have decided to use the next seven days to raise awareness about their role and how nutrition can have a significant impact on mental health.

Alongside 1:1 input with patients, the Dietetics team provide specialist support to the rest of the clinical team, including nursing staff and healthcare assistants, occupational therapists, psychologists and doctors, as well as our catering teams. This ensures that inpatients receive the correct nutrition to support their mental health recovery journey.

Part of their work has included the development of the St Andrew’s Nutritional Screening Instrument (SANSI), which is a tool that assesses the risk of nutrition related issues for each patient.

SANSI was created by the team as an alternative to the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST). This is because dietitians working in mental health, brain injury and neurology have long recognised that MUST significantly under reports nutrition related risk in our patient group.

Andrew Simmons-Roberts said: “The MUST tool focuses on undernutrition and acute illness rather than key risk factors relevant to our patients and also it’s not suitable for use in adolescents.

“That is why we decided to create our own tool which tackles these issues and captures these risks including dysphagia, the need for tube feeding, special dietary requirements, selective eating, food/fluid refusal and obesity. We also ensured it would be suitable to use in adolescent services.

“The power of the diet is so important to fuelling our bodies, but for those with complex health needs it’s even more vital we ensure each individual is receiving the right nutrition to help them function.”

The team conducted some research to validate this tool and the published paper focused on the adult inpatient secure psychiatric setting.

Andrew Simmons-Roberts added: “St Andrew’s Healthcare has a large cohort of patients with brain injury and neurological conditions and the research was conducted across all services including the CAMHS services.  Our findings confirmed that SANSI captures risks that MUST misses in our patient group. The tool has been adopted by other organisations including some from overseas and shared with members of the specialist mental health group of the British Dietetic Association.