Preventing malnutrition in later life

Launching Purbeck’s Prevention Programme

The Purbeck area in Dorset is one of five national pilot sites in the Malnutrition Prevention Programme testing a model of working across ‘whole communities’ to tackle preventable malnutrition in older people. Here, Helen Ramsbottom from the Malnutrition Task Force talks about attending their launch event.

On a perfect beach day last week, I headed down to Dorset for an event which filled me with hope and confidence for tackling malnutrition in Purbeck. On my way down I had a great view of the lovely coastline – new to me – with sweeping golden sands and pine trees and bracken leading to the sea’s edge. I can see why people want to move here!

Called ‘An Appetite for Change in Purbeck!,’ the event was held to launch the pilot Prevention Programme aiming to raise awareness of malnutrition and dehydration among older people in Purbeck. It will also strive to develop services that will improve nutritional care in the community and support residents to live longer and more independent, healthy lives.

People from many organisations came together to share their experiences and determination in making change happen for older people locally. Led by not-for-profit ‘Help and Care’ – a registered charity working with older people, carers and communities – we heard from public health representatives, the Council, third sector organisations and the NHS about how they can work together to prevent malnutrition in Purbeck.

It was very informative. For instance, we discovered that around 70 staff in the locality who have regular contact with older people are to be trained in awareness raising. This will include training in MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool), a really useful five-step screening tool which will help them identify adults who are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

We were also told how older people will be involved in making the programme a success, contributing recipe ideas and helping to source ingredients. If older people’s health and wellbeing is compromised then they can’t continue to make positive contributions – a huge loss for both them and local communities.

Elsewhere, there was a great emphasis on how to tackle cross-organisational obstacles and issues, showing that where there’s a will, there’s a way! Often the issues are practical ones relating to, for instance, how data is recorded and shared between organisations.

All in all it was a fascinating day and it was great listening to the speakers who seemed to have a real knowledge of the issues. Based on what I heard I’m really enthusiastic to see how this pilot site will develop. Please keep watching our website for further updates from all the pilot sites!



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