Boost for nutrition of elderly people in hospital and care homes

The government published the UK’s first nutrition action plan for older people yesterday in an attempt to tackle malnutrition in hospitals and care homes.

The Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board will be chaired by Gordon Lishman, the director general of Age Concern.

The action plan was launched by care minister Ivan Lewis in collaboration with 25 stakeholders.

Lishman said: “I have been angry and concerned about the terrible effects of malnutrition in some hospitals and care settings for years and I am delighted there is now a real commitment to change.”

The action plan sets out five priorities for both health and social care organisations to commit to and improve the nutritional care of the elderly.

In response to the action plan, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has pledged to incorporate the nutrition principles in its assessments of student nurses from September 2008. And training programmes in nutritional care will be available to social care and NHS staff from May 2008.

Lewis said: “Neglect and poor practice cannot be tolerated; every hospital and care home should be in no doubt that they have a responsibility to ensure that older people have a choice of good food and where necessary are assisted to eat and drink properly.” 

He added: “Today’s action plan is unprecedented and makes it clear that nutrition is about dignity but also central to older people’s good health and ability to recover from illness.”

Five priorities of Nutrition Action Plan

– Raise awareness of link between nutrition and good health

– Provide accessible guidance across all sectors

– Encourage nutritional screening for all people using health and social care services; with particular attention to vulnerable groups

– Encourage provision and access to relevant training for frontline staff and managers on the importance of nutrition for good health and nutritional care

– Clarify standards and strengthen inspection and regulation
More information
Report: Nutrition Action Plan

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