Volunteers transform patient snack trolleys to offer healthier options

Tuesday, 15 May 2018
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board volunteers
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board are the very first Health Board in Wales to implement radical changes to its patient trolley service, ensuring that 75% of the snacks and drinks on offer are classed as healthy.

Traditionally, patient trolleys offer chocolates, crisps and sweets: snacks that are typically very high in fat and sugar.

However, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Royal Voluntary Service and their volunteers who run the trolley service at the University Hospital of Wales, the health board can ensure that the thousands of patients they visit each week have unrestricted access to healthy snacks.

We hope that this will encourage patients who are staying in to choose healthy and nutritious food and drink options in order to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Healthy products are defined as those that are predominantly low in sugar and fat, based on the Food Standards Agency’s traffic light system.

As delicious as it may be, this doesn’t mean that the trolley will only offer celery! Examples of the kinds of changes the volunteers have made include swapping deep-fried crisps for baked varieties, which contain much less fat.

Ensuring 75% of the snacks and drinks available on the trolley service are classed as healthy is part of a Health Board policy which requies all Health Board run outlets to also make the healthy choice the easy choice.

"As a Health Board, we do much more than providing patient centred care. Our mission is to care for people but also to keeping them well.

"As a nation we are eating less fruit and vegetables and more energy-rich foods high in fats, sugar and salt than ever before. It is more important than ever that we make sure our patients, staff and visitors have easy access to healthy, affordable, nutritious food and that the healthy choice is the easy choice.

"We know that a large number of the adult population of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are classified as overweight or obese. To address this problem, we require a true cultural change with the ultimate goal of changing how people think about and approach food on a day-to-day basis.

"Swapping a few snacks on a trolley may seem like a small action at first glance but in reality, it is a hugely significant step in improving patient and population health. I would like to take this opportunity to thank their volunteers who have all really stepped up to help the health board achieve its vision of making healthy snacks more available, thereby making them the norm.

"The volunteers who run the trolley service in our hospitals play a very valuable role in bringing snacks and drinks to patients on the wards, many of whom may be unable to get to shops. We are very grateful to both Royal Voluntary Service and their volunteers for their commitment and support to progress this important agenda.

"As part of our responsibility to keep people well, we seek to actively and visibly promote the health of our staff, patients and community at every available opportunity. We want to be exemplars of good practice."

Dr Sharon Hopkins, Executive Director of Public Health for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

"We are delighted to be at the forefront of providing healthy eating options to customers. Royal Voluntary Service is committed to being the leading hospital retailer for providing healthier choices, including through implementing these changes to our Trolley Service with Cardiff and Vale UHB. We would like to thank all our dedicated volunteers who do the trolley rounds in the hospital, who as well as providing a great service also provide a friendly face and listening ear to patients, staff and visitors."

Mark Olliver, Director of Retail Operations for the Royal Voluntary Service

For further information

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 25,000 volunteers supporting thousands of older people each month in hospitals and the community.

The focus is on building confidence, improving well-being and keeping loneliness at bay through an array of social activities and more structured support.

Working across hundreds of hospitals in the community, the charity is one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafés, shops and trolley services providing much valued services in hospitals.

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

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