09th June 2017

Help to contribute to a better understanding of malnutrition

As a service provider, you will know you are required by the Health and Social Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (Regulation 14) to make sure the individuals in your care have enough to eat and drink to meet their nutrition and hydration needs, and receive the support they need to do so. Service users must be assessed to identify their individual nutritional needs and a care plan developed so appropriate food and drink is provided to meet those needs.

Despite the best efforts of many organisations and individuals, the costs associated with malnutrition within the UK have continued to rise. The personal cost to individuals and their families is also significant, with associated increased mortality rates, increased admissions to hospital, increased pressure ulcers, falls and infections and an overall decrease in quality of life. Combating malnutrition in the UK remains a significant public health challenge, but solutions are likely to lie in developing innovative ways to work together.

Measuring Nutritional Care: screening, nutritional care processes, outcomes and patient experience

One such potential innovation is the freely available BAPEN nutritional care tool. This has been designed for health and social settings and can support care homes to measure the quality of nutritional care provided and identify areas of best practice. The tool allows settings to monitor:

  • Nutritional screening
  • The effectiveness of nutritional care they provide
  • The user experience

A key element of this tool is the resident experience section which will support care homes to ensure that residents are being provided with sufficient support to meet their nutritional needs, and can provide the opportunity for homes to demonstrate how they are responsive to patients’ needs.

BAPEN’s aim is that care homes will use this tool regularly, using it in a similar way to the NHS Safety Thermometer, which is a digital point of care tool that provides a ‘temperature check’ on harm and can be used to build data collection about patient safety.

In fact, BAPEN can collect this data (anonymised) nationally from care homes willing to contribute this on a voluntary basis, and this enables it to measure the prevalence of malnutrition and changes in this over time. Care homes can contribute at any time but the next national date set for collection is 12th June.

Why not use this opportunity to try the tool? Don’t forget measurement is key to delivering further improvements in the quality of nutritional care, so participating may help both monitor and improve nutritional care within your settings. It may also facilitate the collection of national data – helping yourselves and helping contribute to a better understanding of malnutrition!

For more details of the BAPEN Nutrition Care Tool, and how to get involved with data measurement you can go to: http://data.bapen.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=101

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Ayela Spiro

Nutrition Science Manager, British Nutrition Foundation

Ayela is a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, where her role involves providing expert advice on nutrition and health issues to a number of key audiences including consumers, health professionals, charities, the media and the food industry. At the heart of her work is the communication of nutrition science that promotes understanding of nutrition and health and contributes to the improved wellbeing of all.

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