New BAPEN Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool

Designed to identify those living in the community at risk of malnutrition

Malnutrition Self Screening website 1st December 2015: Today BAPEN is launching a new Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool designed to help combat malnutrition, a major clinical and public health problem which is predominantly found in the community. The web-based Tool, which is free to use, is designed to help adults living in the community to identify their own risk of malnutrition. It is based on weight status and history of weight loss, using the criteria already incorporated into the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’)(1), the most widely used screening tool in the UK.

Individuals identified as being at risk of malnutrition, can download a dietary advice sheet that gives them basic information and suggestions for improving their nutritional intake, until they receive further advice from a healthcare professional. This dietary advice sheet which was developed as a consensus recommendation by a wide range of professional organisations and originates from the ‘Malnutrition Pathway’, provides guidance to GPs and other healthcare professionals on the management of malnutrition in the community(2).

“Carers UK welcomes the launch of BAPEN’s new Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool. Research conducted by Carers UK amongst families caring for a loved one who is sick, disabled or chronically ill, showed that around one in eight of those being cared for were at risk of malnutrition and their families were worried about what to do about diet and nutrition.  The research also highlighted that many people hadn’t always been given the right nutritional information or advice. A simple tool which anyone can access is a great way to raise awareness of the risk of malnutrition and to get families asking the right questions so that they can get the right support making everyone healthier and more confident as a result.” Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK.

Self-screening could help in the prevention and management of malnutrition. If malnutrition were identified and treated early it could prevent unnecessary suffering and unnecessary GP consultations and hospital admissions. Data from BAPEN’s Nutrition Screening Week surveys has shown that almost 30% patients on admission to hospitals in the UK are at risk of malnutrition, much of which could have been identified and treated in the community(3).

“The British Dietetic Association welcomes the BAPEN Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool. This represents a major development and, for the first time on line, enables patients to identify malnutrition in themselves and then take appropriate steps to treat it.” Andy Burman, British Dietetic Association CEO

The self-screening process fits in well with a range of professional and government recommendations that aim to empower members of the public and involve them in their own care, Furthermore, since a recent report(4) that indicates the annual  public expenditure on malnutrition in England to be almost £20 billion and that appropriate and timely nutritional support can save rather than cost money, use of the Self-Screening Tool by people in their own homes could help reduce both the clinical and economic  burden of malnutrition.

Christine Russell who sits on the Malnutrition Action Group of BAPEN and co-designed the Tool said, “We are delighted that Carers UK and the British Dietetic Association have officially welcomed the new Tool which it is hoped will help tackle unrecognised and untreated malnutrition, which exists in the community.  If malnutrition can be prevented or identified and treated at an early stage it could reduce dependency on others and admissions to hospital and other care settings. It could also help family members who are often concerned about weight loss and changes in appetite when a loved one is unwell.”

The new Malnutrition Self-Screening Tool can be accessed at www.malnutritionselfscreening.org

* BAPEN coordinated four Nutrition Screening Week (NSW) surveys which took place between 2007 and 2011, each in a different season of the year.  The NSW surveys involved a total of 661 hospital centres and data collected on 34,699 patients on admission to hospitals across the UK and is the biggest survey into the prevalence of ‘malnutrition’ ever conducted.

References

  1. The ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’) www.bapen.org.uk/screening-for-malnutrition/must/introducing-must
  2. Managing Adult Malnutrition in the Community (2012)  www.malnutritionpathway.co.uk/
  3. Russell C A and Elia M.(2014) Nutrition Screening Surveys in Hospitals in the UK, 2007-2011*.BAPEN
  4. Elia M, (Ed) (2015 ) The cost of malnutrition in England and potential cost savings from nutritional interventions. A report from the Malnutrition Action Group of BAPEN and the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre

For more information, interviews and comment:
Charlotte Messer or Helen Lawn
01892 525141/07928 700277/07879 818247

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