Local NHS raises awareness of good nutrition and hydration for wellbeing

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NHS Southend and NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition and hydration care.

Nutrition and Hydration Week runs from 11-17 March and is a campaign of joint action by Hospital Caterers Association, National Association of Care Catering and NHS England to improve awareness of good nutrition and hydration for patients in health and social care.

In the UK at any one time, there are an estimated three million malnourished people, with many more at risk. Around one in three people admitted to hospital or care homes in the UK are found to be malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Malnutrition is caused by having an inadequate diet or a problem absorbing nutrients from food. To aid identification of the condition, carers can look out for common signs which include:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • feeling tired all the time and lacking energy
  • frequent and long-lasting infections
  • delayed wound healing
  • poor concentration
  • difficulty keeping warm
  • depression.

There are many reasons why generally healthy people can become malnourished, including reduced mobility or dexterity, poor dental health, or financial difficulties. Some health conditions or treatments can cause problems with the mouth or with swallowing, which can affect eating and, even, drinking – adding the risk of dehydration. To encourage people to eat and drink:

  • Encourage the person to eat and drink with others
  • Use a favourite cup and plate
  • Take smaller meals and drinks more often
  • Try different foods, particularly those that contain fluids. For example, fruit and vegetables, soup, breakfast cereal with milk, yogurt, jelly, ice-cream and sauces.
  • If dry mouth is a problem, the following may also help: suck on ice; use mouth moisturising gels, chew sugar free gum and high fluoride toothpaste; and clean the mouth frequently.

There is evidence that poor nutrition and hydration can harm patients’ health and wellbeing, reduce their ability to recover and even lead to death. Poor and inconsistent practice in nutrition and hydration care can also lead to serious and avoidable harm.

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse and Interim Accountable Officer said: “Nutrition and Hydration Week continues to grow each year with more and more organisations taking part across all care settings. The week is all about raising awareness around the vital need for good nutrition and hydration and recognising we all have a role to play in improving the health and well-being for ourselves and those in our care.”