An audit of meal preparation and social eating sessions at Newbridge has shown a consistent improvement for participants.

The Newbridge occupational therapy (OT) team run a range of sessions to support meal preparation and social eating. Using a graded approach, young people begin by preparing simple meals, then progress to main meals (according to age and ability).

Social eating is also supported, initially by having lunch outside the unit in a café, then may include going to a restaurant for an evening meal.

Newbridge is widely recognised for its innovative and broad group programme and OT expertise focusing on the practical and behavioural aspects of treatment. All young people at Newbridge can access these groups: Breakfast Club and Snack Out (open groups) and Lunch Club and Come Dine with Me (by assessment, set duration).

An audit has been carried out to assess the effectiveness of these interventions. Eating and Meal Preparation Skills Assessment (EMPSA) tool was used, with assessments carried out before and after treatment to measure the individual’s ability and motivation for 12 aspects of meal preparation and eating, from planning and preparing food to eating out socially.

Janet Tighe, lead occupational therapist at Newbridge House, commented: “The results are extremely reassuring, with almost all young people reporting an improvement in several aspects of their ability and motivation following intervention.

“Additionally, comments from young people indicated they found the groups encouraged independence, challenged their fears and increased confidence, in addition to being reported as enjoyable by many.”

The EMPSA requires the young person to rate their ability and motivation in 12 tasks, on a 10-point scale where ‘0’ indicates no ability or motivation and ‘10’ indicates total ability or motivation.

Twenty-five individuals completed the EMPSA before and after treatment. There was a statistically significant average increase reported for both motivation and ability.

Professor Hubert Lacey, head of research at Newbridge House, commented: “We are extremely proud of the OT resource and our innovative group programme; this is one of the unique features of Newbridge.

“Equally, we are committed to the principle of auditing everything we do, so we know what works, what needs to be refined and in what way.

“The results of this audit are particularly pleasing, showing significant improvement in both ability and motivation. Young people have regularly told us that they value social eating and meal preparation groups, finding them helpful and enjoyable. Now, with this audit, we have a clear, quantitative measure of benefit.”