SERHS Food, together with the Maresme Health Consortium, the Maresme Foundation and the Mataró City Council have started an innovative program to prevent malnutrition in children and adolescents with severe neurological disorders who suffer from dysphagia and who have problems eating and drinking with normality, which affects your health and quality of life.
This project began in 2019 thanks to the money that the Maresme Health Consortium (CSdM) collects from the “El Comer Cura!” Campaign, with the collaboration of the Maresme Foundation and the support of the Mataró City Council.
Now, once the scientific study has been carried out, the program is consolidated through the collaboration of SERHS Food and is integrated as a pilot test in the ordinary operation of the L’Arboç de Mataró school, where most of the students have cerebral palsy.
The project is also possible thanks to the agreement signed with the Mataró City Council, which will contribute € 14,000 per year to offset the extra cost of adapting the diets to the needs of the students.
Phase 1: investigation and diagnosis of the situation
The first objective of the CSdM team of researchers was to evaluate the situation of the students of the L’Arboç school.
The study carried out in 2019 and recently published in the prestigious journal Nutrients shows that all the students had dysphagia, 89% had growth difficulties, 55% were underweight and 70% dehydrated. The study included a chewing, swallowing and nutritional evaluation, an estimate of nutritional and water needs, and the design of a modified texture diet.
“To develop this project, it has been essential to carry out a preliminary research study to measure the dimension of the problem and establish the nutritional needs of the school students based on age and nutritional status based on 4 different phenotypes. All this has allowed us to verify that the affectation is very wide and that the problem is not only their diet, but also their hydration.”, Says Pere Clavé, academic, research and innovation director of the CSdM.
Phase 2: educational program
During this year an online program has been carried out to train people who care for students, both in the school environment (tutors, educators, physiotherapists, nurses, speech therapists, etc.) and at home (formal and informal caregivers), as well as to families.
Cristina Carol, director of the L’Arboç special education school explains that “The more we know about dysphagia, the more we realize the incidence that this disease has in a school like ours, and the more aware we are of its impact on health of our students, all with great neurological affectations. Consequently, it is key that the educational community is aware of dysphagia and knows how to act on it. For this reason, we value this comprehensive intervention of the CSdM very positively to help improve the health and quality of life of our students”.
Phase 3: adapted school cafetería
During this course the school is working on what is known as the Triple Diet Adaptation (TAD); the adaptation of the different calories and proteins of the dishes to the needs of each student, as well as their viscosity and texture, enhancing the organoleptic qualities to make tasty and attractive dishes.
It is in this phase of developing the dishes for the students that Serhs Food has come into action.
This comprehensive intervention program in a school with students with neurological disabilities will serve as a pilot experience to later implement the system in other centers. “We believe that it is a much more widespread problem than it may seem and that is why all the procedures that we have designed in a pioneering way, as well as the development of adapted diets, will also serve for other schools in similar situations”, says Pere Clavé.
Raimon Bagó, general director of SERHS Food, comments that “our main objective has always been individual satisfaction within collective catering. With the adaptation of food to each person entails, one by one, according to their needs. In this case it is even more important and we show our commitment in this collaboration”.
The media have echoed the news. You can see it in La Vanguardia.