Working so closely with our care clients allows us to understand just how vital providing good hydration and nutritious food is in care settings, and with over three million people at risk of malnutrition in the UK, the importance of hydration and nutrition in care is crucial.
It can be difficult in many care homes for staff to ensure that their residents are eating and drinking properly, and this can be due to many reasons such as poor appetite or poor health. These residents are monitored closely to ensure that their intake of food and drink is suitable, and any concerns can be raised in a timely manner.
Being underweight can be especially serious for older people as it increases the risk of health problems, it weakens the immune system, leaving people more susceptible to infections, and increases the risk of being deficient in important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. It is important to monitor residents’ weight and if there’s cause for concern, supplements can be provided to support at mealtimes.
Offering an excellent choice of food is important; mealtimes should be an enjoyable part of the day that encourage social interaction amongst residents. Meals should be varied to make sure that residents do not suffer with menu fatigue, as well as being tasty with a variety of colour and textures. If any of the residents require a texture-modified meal, thought must be given to the presentation of the meal to retain dignity and enjoyment in mealtimes. In all cases, meals should be nutritionally balanced with elements of protein, carbohydrate, vegetables etc.
Hydration is often a problem for the older generation and so it is important for carers to monitor fluid intake and output, particularly if there are any concerns. It can help for carers to sit with residents to ensure they finish their drinks, which can be difficult when there are multiple residents to attend to. Advances in technology have brought many solutions to market including gadgets to track hydration levels and cups with sensors or timers that remind the person to drink regularly.
Each resident should have an individual care plan with any dietary requirements clearly highlighted and communication between nurses, carers, catering staff and family is fundamental to make sure a “rounded approach” to care is provided.
CaterCloud, powered by EF-group, our menu management solution, offers key features specifically for the healthcare sector and provides all the relevant nutritional and allergen information for each recipe. The chef can use this information to ensure that each resident is receiving suitable meals to suit their dietary requirements. There is also a meal planner function which can create a weekly menu for residents, check out our short Meal Planner video here.
Training and awareness should form part of ongoing professional development for everyone working in the care sector and earlier this year health and social care professionals in clinical, catering, and nursing brought together their combined expertise for Nutrition and Hydration week. If you’d like to know more, and get involved for 2024, please visit: https://nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk/