Describe ways to resolve any difficulties or dilemmas about the choice of food and drink. Allowing an individual the choice of what they wish to eat is very important and if they do not want what is on the menu you can try asking what they would prefer and agree with them a suitable alternative. If a service user cannot communicate with words alone, using pictures or some other method to show what food they wish to eat could also be an appropriate method. Explaining the nutritional values of meals and encouraging a healthy option is important but it is the service users right to refuse or choose something different. 1.4 Describe how and when to seek additional guidance about an individual’s choice of food and drink. Family and friends of a service user or even the service user themselves can provide guidance in regards to what they like to eat and drink and what they prefer, this information can be found in each service users care plans. However, there may be other times in which additional guidance should be sought out. For example, if a service user is on a particular diet for diabetes or weight loss, if they are on a soft food diet or even a puree diet and you are unsure of what foods are suitable for them then a qualified member of staff can be asked.
Be able to provide support for eating and drinking.
Describe factors that help promote an individual’s dignity, comfort and enjoyment while eating and drinking. It is important to assess the needs of each service user separately as what works for one may not be suitable for someone else. A calm and clean environment should be provided during meal times and it is vital to ensure that any special cutlery or eating aids are provided at the beginning of each meal and that they are accessible to the service user. You should ensure that a drink is within reach and that what they are eating is suitable for their diet and needs. Providing the service user with encouragement or psychological support is of upmost importance, any assistance should be provided with feeding if the service user struggles or requires aid.
Be able to clear away after food and drink.
Explain why it is important to be sure that an individual has chosen to finish eating and drinking before clearing away. It is very important and respectful to ensure that a service user has finished with their meal before clearing it away. It may be that the service user is a slower eater than someone else or is quite simply having a breather, they could also need a break for the toilet; if the food is cleared away before they are ready it is possible for them to be left still feeling hungry or thirsty. This could upset or agitate the service user. Be sure to fully communicate with the service user to be one hundred percent certain that the meal is finished with if they should stop eating.
Be able to monitor eating and drinking and the support provided.
Explain the importance of monitoring the food and drink an individual consumes and any difficulties they encounter. Keeping a record or monitoring an individual’s diet can be extremely important. It can help with understanding certain likes and dislikes of food, which meals are eaten better and which types of meals are preferred. It can also provide answers in regards to any changes that may highlight certain health issues such as difficulty with swallowing or chewing, struggling with solids but eating better with softer foods or loss of appetite due to illness. Also, if a service user suffers any sudden weight loss, monitoring food intake is important for understanding whether it is a health issue or purely lack of eating. Steps can then be taken to rectify any issues.