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16th March 2016

Join the global movement: Nutrition and Hydration Week 2016

Nutrition and Hydration Week (NHW) is a collaboration between the Hospital Caterers’ Association, National Association of Care Catering and Patient Safety Domain NHS England since 2013, and this year runs from 14th – 20th March.

NHW sets out to create a global movement that reinforces and focuses energy, activity and engagement on nutrition and hydration as an important part of quality care and experience in health and social care settings.

At its core, the aim of the week is to illustrate how, by making positive changes to eating and drinking habits, people can improve their quality of life. The benefit of the campaign to professionals and staff within social settings is the preventative role they can play in catalysing a reduction in malnutrition related illnesses that often require complex treatments, prolong recovery periods, prevent hospital admissions and associated increased NHS costs, and can reduce the quality of life of the person affected.

Allowing care homes to shout about the good nutrition work they are doing

The week is not about telling care home professionals what to do – rather, it’s about allowing and supporting individuals, teams and organisations to get involved in something that provides an opportunity to showcase their practices, and/or to make changes or introduce new ideas and concepts to the services they provide. It also encourages working in partnership between different professional groups and individuals so that a better understanding can be gained of each other’s role and better relationships for ‘joined up’ care formed – which is so important in reducing malnutrition.

For those that work in care homes settings, one of the benefits of the week perhaps is that it prevents the perpetuation of the message that everything is terrible when in fact some care homes are providing excellent care. The week allows them time to share their work, ideas and passion.

NHW Activities

Original and inspirational ideas that care homes have come up with to celebrate previous NHWs have included the idea of providing jellies to improve hydration. Some care homes have arranged visits to other care homes and organised joint tea parties, others have provided fresh fruit and wine and cheese tasting sessions.

Activities that have been planned for NHW2016 include a Global Tea Party on Wednesday 16th March. Other days have a suggested a theme to help staff plan the week.

Monday – Big Breakfast, Tuesday – Supper time, Thursday – Thirsty Thursday and Friday – Fishy or Fruity Friday.

On a more serious note, one of the week’s key aims is to promote awareness of The 10 Key Characteristics for Good Nutritional Care, and how they align to good practices.

A little more on the 10 Key Characteristics

In 2015 NHS England was asked by Department of Health to review the Council of Europe’s 10 key characteristics of good nutrition and hydration care. Changes were made following feedback from stakeholders and the updated 10 key characteristics for settings are:

  1. Screen all patients and service-users to identify malnutrition or risk of malnutrition and ensure actions are progressed and monitored.
  2. Together with each patient or service user, create a personal care/support plan enabling them to have choice and control over their own nutritional care and fluid needs.
  3. Care providers should include specific guidance on food and beverage services and other nutritional & hydration care in their service delivery and accountability arrangements.
  4. People using care services are involved in the planning and monitoring arrangements for food service and drinks provision.
  5. Food and drinks should be provided alone or with assistance in an environment conducive to patients being able to consume their food (Protected Mealtimes).
  6. All healthcare professionals and volunteers receive regular raining to ensure they have the skills, qualifications and competencies needed to meet the nutritional and fluid requirements of people using their services.
  7. Facilities and services providing nutrition and hydration are designed to be flexible and centred on the needs of the people using them, 24 hours a day, every day.
  8. All care providers to have nutrition and hydration policy centred on the needs of users, and is performance managed in line with local governance, national standards and regulatory frameworks.
  9. Food, drinks and other nutritional care are delivered safely.
  10. Care providers should take a multi-disciplinary approach to nutrition and hydration care, valuing the contribution of all staff, people using the service, carers and volunteers working in partnership.

Other aims for NHW 2016 have been laid out as follows:

  • Utilising Nutrition Advocates/ Champions for each health or social care setting.
    • Promoting the creation of Nutrition Advocates/Champions from the existing staff team to act as a lead in promoting this vital component of good care.
  • The minimum standards for good nutrition in the respective settings.
    • Promote the relevant recommended standards to gain wider acceptance as the industry standard, and further engage discussions in making these mandatory.
  • Highlighting Good Nutrition Practices.
    • Promote the positive work taking place and disseminating good practice wider.
  • Highlighting Good Hydration Practices.
    • Promote the positive work taking place and disseminating good practice wider.

The week has continued to grow since its inception – with increasing numbers of care homes getting involved.

Nutrition and Hydration Week 2016 takes place from 14th-20th March. Check out the website for for more information or inspiration!

Ayela Spiro, British Nutrition Foundation – QCS Expert Nutrition Contributor

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