Preventing malnutrition in later life

Have you seen the Patients Association’s Nutrition Checklist?

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Kate Hall, Head of External Affairs at Nutricia, blogs on a Nutrition Checklist from the Patients Association. The Checklist helps patients see whether they need nutritional help or extra nourishment and what to do next.

In late 2016, The Patients Association launched a report of findings to help with the identification and self-identification of adults who are malnourished or in need of nutritional advice. The work identified that there is scope for a Nutrition Checklist which can be used in many settings to help encourage conversations about weight and nutrition and lead people towards established tools and guidance.

There are 18 recommendations included in the report which are aimed at different audiences such as the general public, NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England, the Malnutrition Task Force, Care Quality Commission, NHS Improvement and the NICE implementation team.

The recommendations included ensuring that the Nutrition Checklist is widely promoted and adopted in different settings and in different formats across health and social care, including the voluntary sector, care providers and GP surgeries. The Nutrition Checklist could also be used as a tool to assist staff in identifying the type of nutritional support and advice which is needed for in-patients and on discharge from hospital, especially for patients at risk of malnutrition either by age or type of condition.

It was suggested that there should be more robust measures in place to ensure nutrition and hydration aspects are built into Care Quality Commission inspections in all care settings. The NICE implementation team could raise the profile of nutrition and provide a key point of contact in their portfolio within NHS England, and NHS Improvement could make use of the Nutrition Checklist to ensure nutritional needs are taken into account at hospital discharge and in community settings.

The Patients Association is now carrying out further work to test the Nutrition Checklist in a GP setting and a video is being developed for this to be shown in patient waiting areas. In partnership with Bournemouth University and Wessex Academic Health Science Network (WAHSN), the Checklist is also being piloted with a domiciliary care provider.

This next phase will help identify the wider potential for the Checklist and how it might improve practice. It will also identify other possible benefits such as the reduction in demand of hospital beds and GPs, and its use by practice based and community pharmacists and other professionals, unqualified staff and volunteers.

The project is currently funded by a non-restricted educational grant from Nutricia.

For further information, please email Heather Eardley, Head of Projects and Partnerships at the Patients Association, at heather@patients-association.com.

Click here to see the draft of the Nutrition Checklist.

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