Preventing malnutrition in later life

Screen from home with BAPEN’s new malnutrition screening tool

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At the beginning of this month, a novel way of combating malnutrition through a new screening tool was unveiled. In this blog, BAPEN, the organisation behind the tool, talk about what it is, what makes it unique and the reasons behind its launch.  

Malnutrition in the UK is a real problem. Our estimates show that of the 3 million people who are affected by malnutrition at any one time, 93% of them live in the community.

While hospitals play a key role in identifying patients at risk, an alarming 1 in 3 patients aged 65 years and over are already at risk of malnutrition on admission, the prevalence increasing with older age.

Over the years, we at BAPEN have developed a range of resources, mainly for healthcare professionals, to help raise awareness and combat malnutrition in all care settings and in the community.

Our latest tool, however, is designed to empower patients and/or their carers and involve them in their care.

The Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool has been specifically designed to help these individuals identify their own risk of malnutrition or the risk of malnutrition in someone they care for.

The Tool is free to use and available at www.malnutritionselfscreening.org. By clicking on ‘Self-Screening’ you are taken to a calculator which can work out malnutrition risk based on height, weight and recent weight lost. It really is that simple. It is based on ‘MUST’ (the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’) which we developed and is the most widely used screening tool in the UK.

Studies have shown that patients can effectively screen themselves in outpatient clinics. We have now taken this to the next logical step. Through the Tool, we are allowing people to screen themselves from their own homes, or, indeed, wherever they can pick up an internet connection.

We believe allowing people to identify malnutrition risk themselves is a landmark development in self-care.

Should someone be found to be at high risk of malnutrition, they will be encouraged to seek appropriate advice from their GP or other healthcare professional. They will also be offered a dietary advice sheet which gives basic advice and suggestions for improving nutritional intake in the interim period.

With latest figures showing us that malnutrition costs can run into billions of pounds annually, and that appropriate and timely nutritional support can save rather than cost money, it is a condition which can’t be ignored.

Now couldn’t be a better time to launch the Tool, and we feel it will be a valuable addition to the resources that can help prevent malnutrition in the community.

Why not give it a try yourself at www.malnutritionselfscreening.org? It’s so easy to use.

If you would like more information, please email us at bapen@bapen.org.uk.

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