Despite constant criticism of the food provided in hospitals, many of those surveyed were actually satisfied with the standard of food.
However, this recent study revealed that both patients and carers would like to see better communication with staff regarding special nutritional requirements.
The survey was carried out as research for a strategy on adult nutritional care in the health service which was launched by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
Louise Skelly, from the Patient and Client Council, said: “People have told us that vulnerable patients should be assisted with feeding when required,” she said.
Other findings from the survey included both patients and carers stating that more adequate staffing is required at mealtimes to ensure all patients are given the help they need. This is something that trained volunteers may be able to help with and hospitals are now encouraging family members to visit at mealtimes so they can help where appropriate.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “I have already initiated a range of nutritional initiatives across Northern Ireland and the actions arising from this strategy will ensure we build on this best practice. This will include raising awareness and the use of screening tools to identify those people in our society most at risk of malnutrition.”