Evaluating the Volunteer Meal Assistance Program at Western Health; A positive patient experience.

Ms Hollie Bevans1, Ms Vanessa Carter1, Ms  Allison  Lauder1, Ms  Diana Lo2, Ms Sarah Marfurt2, Mr Matthew Marshall2, Ms Aimee Morabito2, Ms Aranka Nenov1

1Western Health, Footscray, Australia, 2Deakin University, Burwood, Australia


Aim: To determine patient experience and assess nutritional intake and plate wastage of patients receiving VMAP on select wards at Sunshine Hospital.

Method: Over a 3 day period pre–post study design was used to evaluate average lunchtime energy and protein intake and plate wastage of patient’s, at Sunshine Hospital pre and post implementation of VMAP. Patient experience was also captured. Descriptive statistics were analysed using unpaired t tests and one way ANOVA. Thematic analysis was used to analyse patient experience. The project was approved by The Western Health low risk ethics panel.

Results: No significant difference in age (p= 0.64), gender (p=0.59), MST score (p=0.99), plate wastage (p=0.48), energy (p=0.36) or protein intake (p=0.46) was found. Forty three patients completed the patient experience survey. Of these 57% received assistance from VMAP volunteers, 89% of these patients reported that VMAP volunteers helped meet their needs, through social interactions, meal set up, opening packets and cutting up their food. 68% agreed or strongly agreed that the volunteer encouraged them to eat lunch, 72% reported that VMAP made lunch more enjoyable, 24% felt they ate more, 68% reported their mood improved. 21 patients described how VMAP made them feel which included happy (27%), supported (23%), safe (17%) and good (29%).

Significance of the findings to allied health: Multidisciplinary involvement in implementing, evaluating and sustaining patient support programs can positively impact patient experience, broadening the role and reach of allied health clinicians.


Vanessa Carter is A Grade 4 dietitian with over 20 years experience in acute clinical nutrition. Vanessa currently leads the Home Enteral Nutrition, Malnutrition and Research Portfolios, for the Nutrition Department at Western Health in Victoria.