A recent study by BAPEN, reveals that one in ten people over the age of 65 are malnourished or at the risk of malnourishment. That’s 1.3 million people in case you’re wondering. The management of malnutrition is a particular challenge for the care sector where figures from BAPEN show that at least a third of residents in the UK care system are malnourished.
Leah Cooke, a Nursing and Residential Care Lead for Quality Compliance Systems (QCS), says that a host of physical and mental health issues make malnutrition even harder to tackle.
So how can care home managers ensure that the residents they care for receive the correct level of care and support? Mrs Cooke says one of the big challenges that care home managers face “is consolidating CQC regulations and the wealth of best practice (such as NICE guidelines and BAPEN recommendations) into an up-to-date set of policies and procedures that both staff and, where possible, service users can access and implement”.
Together with a number of experts at QCS, Mrs Cooke has helped to develop a suite of policies and procedures centred on malnutrition and hydration, which do exactly that.
Mrs Cooke says that one of the central messages that runs through all QCS policies and procedures around nutrition is “highlighting the importance of using a nationally-recognised risk screening tool and producing individualised nutritional care plans that provide clear strategies to manage residents’ individual risk factors”.
The policies and procedures, which can be customised for each home, also highlight the importance of collaboration and integration.
Explains Mrs Cooke, “When producing nutritional care plans, there is a temptation for care workers to do the work. However, nutritional provision is multi-faceted, and all staff – from care workers to the catering and activities teams – have a key role to play – and they all need to be involved from day one.”
But Mrs Cooke, who gained vast experience in the care sector, before joining QCS, understands the fact that “a carer’s role is diverse and that the primary focus is to provide personalised-care to each resident”.
She says, “For carers, who don’t have much time, our experts have produced easy-intelligible one-page summary documents, which they can access as and when they need them. Training is also key. It’s imperative that staff have the requisite skills to assess risk using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST). Staff must be able to convert results into a clear set of guidelines that take into account the individual wishes, preferences and needs of that person. The result is a workable care plan that not only delivers, but meets the expectations of the regulator.”
To complement each policy and procedure, QCS has produced a suite of templates and resources. These demonstrate how care homes can produce effective care plans which are aligned to both MUST and best practice recommendations. Secondly, with around 17 per cent of care workers coming from abroad each policy and procedure document around malnutrition can be translated into a number of different languages.
Mrs Cooke adds, “…We also recognise, that regardless of nationality and language, not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. Therefore, the key information is showcased in variety of ways. For example, in bullet point form, via a YouTube video, a webinar or a blog.”
With a greater emphasis on learning and more accessible forms of training available to care workers, Mrs Cooke believes that technology can not only help to reduce malnutrition statistics in health and social care, but lay the foundations for excellent care.
She concludes, “Good nutritional support provides a vital foundation for resident’s health and well-being. Producing high quality and holistic care plans which meet CQC standards, has a positive impact on both the resident and every department that has helped to create, shape and implement the plan.”