French fancies, Victoria sponge and a nice cup of tea are just what the doctor ordered at a special weekly party for patients recovering from hip fractures.

The Great Western Hospital’s Trauma Unit, in the Brunel Treatment Centre, is taking an old-fashioned approach, getting out the best china cups and saucers, and piling the cake stand with sweet treats.

Not only does the tea party help patients get out of bed and build their strength, it also helps give them a chance to socialise and reminisce about the past. And who does not feel better for some cake?

Beryl Oakey, 84, from Swindon said: “We have lovely tea, in beautiful teacups. It takes you back to when you had tea with your mum or your grandmother. It’s so spontaneous – everybody has got something to say about growing up, and it’s a time to remember.”

“What I like is the friendliness,” said Mary Buck, aged 91. “The nurses are all so kind, and the food is splendid.”

Occupational therapists Laura Budden and Rachel Clegg have organised a variety of activities that not only entertain the tea party guests, but help them maintain their cognitive skills and explore their memories of the past. Each event has a different theme, and this week the topic is fashion. They have a lively discussion about the best way to wear a headscarf, 1940s style – tied under the chin like the Queen or on the top like a land girl – and pass around some hats.

“The tea party gives our patents a purpose to get up and get washed and dressed. It gets them motivated,” Rachel said.

Laura said: “As well as getting people up and about, we use the session to access patients and to see how they are managing eating and drinking.”

Statistics show that nearly a third of people who fracture their hip die within a year, with a fifth of patients never being able to return to their own home.

Since November 2016, medics in Swindon have joined experts around the country in a two-year Scaling Up initiative, which allows hospitals from across the country to share learning, improvements and best practice in treating hip fracture patients.

These patients need the attention of many specialists, so teams from across the trust are working together to bring about changes that will shorten recovery time and improve a patient’s quality of life once they are home.

Nutrition is vital for recovery and many elderly people do not eat as much as they should, so a Nutritional Assistant supports regular, healthy eating for elderly people, who are most susceptible to such an injury. This helps ensure that even those who lack the capacity to ask for food when they are hungry get the essential nourishment they need to stay healthy.

Emma Wiltshire, the trauma co-ordinator lead for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A big issue with hip fracture patients is nutrition and part of their recovery in building up their strength again is by upping their calorie intake – more than 500 extra a day.

“One of the trusts involved in the project came up with the idea of a regular tea party for hip fracture patients as one way they could get the extra calories they need.

“Tea and cake seems the perfect way to do this so we thought we would give it a go too.”

Terri Lloyd, the Nutritional Assistant on the Trauma Unit, said: “Not only do the tea parties up their nutrition and hydration but it encourages patients to get out of their beds and talk to one another.

“Patients are also encouraged to take part in music and singing at the tea parties which they thoroughly enjoy.

“As a result, we have also introduced a new exercise to music class, so we now have events twice a week on the Trauma Unit.

“Sometimes a hip fracture can mean a lengthy stay in hospital, so this really helps pass the time and acts as a talking point.”

Maxine Buyanga, the matron for Trauma and Orthopaedics and lead for nutrition, said they were working on a range of initiatives to encourage their patients to eat well – including the use of a menu with pictures, adapted cutlery for those with reduced dexterity, and a variety of finger foods – which helped patients eat more, and eat independently.

She said the tea parties had encouraged the patients to relive memories of the past and it was something they really looked forward to.

Alex Ashmore, a consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedics and Project Lead for the trust, said: “Hip fractures are a common condition, especially in older people, and can often lead to a person losing their independence or having to greatly alter the way they live their life.

“Since being involved in the Scaling Up project, it’s great to see the number of patients receiving an extra meal a day has gone from 10 per cent to 60 per cent, thanks to the hard work of our new Nutritional Assistant, Terri, who started earlier this year.

“Nutrition plays a vital role in these patients’ recovery, and this is an important part of a range of improvements we have introduced recently.”

The Scaling Up project is based on prize-winning improvement work of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which produced a number of positive results including improved survival rates and faster access to imaging and surgery. It proved so successful that it was given funding by the Health Foundation to be rolled out nationally.