With 2023 marking the 15th anniversary of the MNI Grant for Optimal Nutritional Care, MNI recently organised a series of interviews to look back at previous ambitious initiatives and their successes at improving nutritional care policies at the national level, starting with 2023 Grant.
The 2013 Grant was awarded to the Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN) for their project “Fighting the malnutrition battle: The Power of Partnerships”. This initiative aimed at building a compelling case for implementation of a national strategy to fight malnutrition in an economic crisis and actively contribute to advancing Ireland as a model of ’best practice’ nutritional care. Seven years in, the initiative reached its goal of systemising malnutrition screening by making it compulsory across Irish hospitals and a part of the routine hospital admission process. This success materialised through the publication of the national guideline on nutrition screening and use of oral nutrition support for adults in acute care setting, which was launched by IrSPEN on behalf of the Irish Health Service Executive and mandated for implementation by the Irish Ministry of Health in 2020.
When discussing the project’s outcomes with MNI, Niamh Rice, CEO at Previs Consulting and Carmel O’Hanlon, Clinical Specialist Dietitian, IrSPEN Board Member, highlighted that the MNI Grant was instrumental in accelerating their project’s objectives, having largely supported groundwork and data gathering. The grant contributed to building a strong economic case for implementing the guidelines through a thorough budget impact analysis which made a difference in having policymakers recognise the need to fund malnutrition screening. IrSPEN’s budget analysis concretely demonstrated that the Irish health system could achieve yearly savings of €24 million through the earlier identification of malnutrition, thereby reducing hospitalisation length.
“I’m proud to say that today in Ireland we have a national screening guideline that is openly accessible. We have also developed several implementation tools and strategies, including an education and training framework for healthcare personnel”. “The MNI grant has been a great support to the work of IrSPEN” – Carmel O’Hanlon.
Carmel O’Hanlon and Niamh Rice also took a moment to celebrate the importance of collaboration for better patient care, having partnered with Health Service Executive of Ireland, different professional bodies and a vast multidisciplinary team in the context of this initiative. In the words of Niamh Rice, “This isn’t simply a project. We are all on a journey to move the needle to not only recognise the importance of nutrition but to make it a routine part of the medical process. Our application illustrated the power of stakeholder collaboration, where we were able to seat down with our multidisciplinary team and identify the national obstacles to patient receiving nutritional care”.