Preventing malnutrition in later life

Training staff to screen for malnutrition in the community

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In our second spotlight on services in the community to prevent malnutrition, we’re looking at the Wessex Academic Health Science Network’s (AHSN) Nutrition in Older Adults Programme.

We know that if we’re going to effectively treat malnutrition, we need to first be able to identify those at risk in hospitals and in the community. Screening tools, such as BAPEN’s Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST), are a simple and effective way of identifying at risk individuals.

In our State of the Nation report, we also highlighted a need for a proper joined-up approach across the health and care sectors if we’re going to effectively tackle malnutrition.

That’s exactly what the Wessex AHSN Programme have achieved across Dorset.Wessex_AHSN_logo_small

Following the successful implementation of an integrated nutritional care programme in Purbeck, one of our pilot sites for the Malnutrition Prevention Programme, the scheme was extended to Christchurch, Dorset.

The programme involved implementing an integrated nutritional care pathway across health and social care – including for screening, agreed treatment guidelines and referral routes. This was realised through a novel electronic system that allowed for screening results and other key information to be shared across teams in the local area.

Community health and social care teams were then trained on how to screen for malnutrition, use the new electronic system and care planning.

Around 1030 staff and volunteers were trained in total.

Highlights from the pilot were:

  • Over 4600 people were screened for malnutrition in the community;
  • 56% of people were screened by professionals who would not normally have carried out screening;
  • The average prevalence of malnutrition was 20%. 

This scheme shows the importance and effectiveness of a collaborative approach across health and social care to identify older adults at risk of malnutrition living in the community. Following the successful pilot in Purbeck and Christchurch, the programme has now been rolled out across other areas in Dorset.

Visit the Wessex AHSN website to read more about their nutrition in older adults programme.

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