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23rd October 2015

Do you want to join in nutritionDay 2015?

nutritionDay is a worldwide annual benchmarking initiative for all types of hospital wards and nursing homes. It aims to improve knowledge and awareness of malnutrition in health care facilities, and enhance the quality of nutritional care. This should already be a priority in care homes, but nutritionDay may provide a platform to facilitate this, and provide evidence that the home is actively looking at innovative ways to improve their nutrition care.

What is nutritionDay all about?

On a specific day every year (this year its 19th November 2015), hospital wards and nursing homes around the world have the opportunity to participate in a one-day cross-sectional audit. Data on nutritional standards, individual nutritional status and nutritional care is collected via staff and residents completion of questionnaires that have been specifically customised for the care home setting. This anonymised data is then uploaded to the nutritionDay database. Further to this, each participating home receives a comprehensive report presenting their results in comparison with similar units worldwide.

How does the nutritionDay initiative allow for benchmarking?

The nutritionDay programme provides protocols and standardised data collection forms and maintains an online database for data entry. Although data collection occurs on one designated day each year, it is repeated annually at each participating care home. This allows for internal benchmarking, that can monitor the home’s progress in reducing risk of malnutrition. The data can identify areas for improvement and be used for informed decision making at management level. It also allows for external benchmarking so care homes can compare their data with similar participating facilities.

nutritionDay is useful in providing a framework in which nutritional status and prevalence of malnutrition in hospital patients and nursing home residents is described between institutions, within and between countries. nutritionDay can also provide useful scientific research. For example, a paper published in Clinical Nutrition following collection of nutritionDay data in German and Austrian nursing homes reported independent risk factors for malnutrition included immobility, dementia and dysphagia. They also found in their cohort that around half of the care home residents received eating assistance for an average of 15 minutes. With regards to clinical outcomes, the paper suggested higher mortality amongst residents with low BMI (≤ 20kg/m2) compared to residents with higher BMI (≥ 22 kg/m2).

Can nutritionDay benefit care homes?

Although nutritionDay only looks at a snapshot of residents’ nutrition, these results may help to confirm staff thoughts or observations on the nutritional care of residents. Adding the nutritionDay data to other data that had been collected as part of performance reviews can also help demonstrate a commitment to improvement in nutritional care, and presentation of the results can be used as part of nutrition training for all care staff.

However, whilst there are benefits to nutritionDay, it should be remembered that if care homes want to participate, the time needed to execute the programme including collection and entering of data should be taken into account. Consideration should be made as to whether the benefits of participating, including the benefit of being able to benchmark internally from year to years, outweigh the expenditure of staff time.

To help you decide whether this initiative may be a useful benchmarking initiative for your care home, you can find more details on http://www.nutritionday.org/en/hospitals-intensive-care-units-.nursing-homes/index.html

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Ayela Spiro

Nutrition Scientist, 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. Read more

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