BETSI Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Renal Dietetic and Social Work team has received a top health award for improving the lives of patients living with Chronic Kidney Disease.

The project - ‘Empowering patients with Chronic Kidney Disease undergoing dialysis through cookery’ - received high praise from the judges, as well as the Chroma Award at this year’s Advancing Health Care Awards held in London this month.

The project, rolled out across the Health Board, with support from the Public Health Dietetic team, was acknowledged for supporting people with kidney failure to enjoy a diet which meets their health needs, socialisation and self-efficacy.

Alison Richards, Renal Social Worker, said: “People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis often report feelings of disempowerment, loneliness and social isolation and are frequently advised to modify their diet.

“Building on a pilot from 2016, our project focused on rolling out a larger pilot of a cooking skills course for this patient group.”

A six-week programme of cooking sessions were created, which aimed to represent everyday life and social situations.

The course aimed to not only increase knowledge and confidence with the ‘renal diet’ and cooking skills but also to offer patients an opportunity to socialise away from a hospital setting.

Twenty two patients between the ages of 20 to 75 years old attended three cooking classes and following the course, patients reported greater appetite, confidence in cooking skills and enjoyment of their diet and were more content with the range of foods that they were able to eat.

Harriet Williams, Area Head of Dietetics for the West of BCUHB, explained by working together with health, social care and education together on these types of projects can produce real results for patients.

She said: “Whilst we had already experienced what we felt as really making a difference to people we care for through this programme, it is very rewarding for us all to receive the recognition that this way of working may really be a great initiative!

“This course was not only a cooking course, it provided so much more – giving patients the knowledge and skills on how to modify their favourite meals which they may have previously thought they couldn’t have, as well as providing a social opportunity for patients to come together for an afternoon and share experiences of dialysis, which is often a lifelong treatment for many.

“The sessions were really fun with lots of laughter, considering the daily challenges that people receiving dialysis face – delivering an intervention which had this effect was for many of us the most rewarding thing we have done in our roles.”