NHS staff warn over risks from poor diet and thirst

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NHS staff are warning of the risks of malnutrition for patients in hospital, in the community as well as for vulnerable people at home.

Dietitians and staff working with older people at Airedale Hospital, Keighley, are highlighting the dangers to staff and carers.

Nick Bergin, specialist nutrition support dietitian at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At any point in time, more than three million people in the UK are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

“There are many reasons why people become malnourished, anything from swallowing problems, nausea or vomiting, pain or infections or simply a loss of appetite can affect someone’s ability to take in the right amount of food and fluids.

“It’s our job, when people are admitted to hospital, to assess their nutritional needs and liaise with the catering team to boost their calorie intake and help them to get better as quickly as possible.

“When patients go home, relatives and carers can help by encouraging them to eat smaller portions more regularly as well as eating snacks with higher calories.

“We want to raise awareness of how important good nutrition and hydration is to people’s health and wellbeing as well as support staff, carers and relatives with practical tips to help them care for people who are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished.

“Ensuring our patients maintain good nutrition and hydration is a fundamental part of caring for them properly.”