Introducing: Preventing Malnutrition in Later Life: Best Practice Principles & Implementation Guide

Malnutrition continues to be a major cause and consequence of poor health with older people particularly vulnerable - 33% of people over 65 years old are currently malnourished or at risk of malnutrition on admission to hospital1.

Today ambitious new guidance is being released, designed to help hospitals improve their standards of nutrition and hydration care, particularly amongst the elderly. The Hospital Guide Preventing Malnutrition in Later Life: Best Practice Principles & Implementation Guide, which is available to download for free from, has been produced by BAPEN and the Malnutrition Task Force (MTF)*, an independent group of experts from health, social care and local government united to address preventable malnutrition and dehydration in hospitals, care homes and in the community. The Guide provides an easy to use framework for implementing real change and signposts useful resources and tools that are currently available and will enable hospital staff to implement the necessary changes to make a real difference.

Most people still do not realise how common malnutrition is or how serious the consequences of it can be and so malnutrition and dehydration often continue to go unrecognised and untreated. The costs of malnutrition run into billions of pounds in spite of proven interventions that can help prevent, identify and manage the problem and risks promptly and thereby reduce the human suffering and the significant associated costs.

The new Guide outlines how to implement excellent nutritional care. Dr Mike Stroud, Chair of BAPEN’s Quality Group, Co-Chair of the MTF and leader of the NICE Guideline Development Group on Nutrition Support commented, “This guide is an important step forward as it outlines ‘how’ hospitals can actually deliver improved nutritional care and comply with guidelines. We should not underestimate the complexity involved in delivering good nutritional care across hospital systems given the number of processes, health care professionals and departments involved. However, it has now been seven years since the publication of the NICE Guideline for nutritional support and it is unacceptable that some hospitals are still not compliant with the recommendations in that guideline – a failure highlighted by both the final recommendations of the Francis Report (2013) on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Dignity and Nutrition inspections (2013) which have both shown that that hospitals repeatedly fail to provide older people with the basic right to food, drink and nutrition support when they need it. There has never been a more urgent need to act.”

The new Guide identifies many excellent examples of practice and existing guidelines, tools and resources that are readily available. It draws on these principles of best practice and provides a clear framework to support senior hospital leaders and clinical teams delivering front line care to take action and make the changes needed.

Dianne Jeffrey, chairman of the Malnutrition Task Force concluded, “Whilst there is good practice in many hospitals, the CQC DANI reports show that there is still room for improvement and some are failing to provide good nutrition and hydration care for their patients. There is still some way to go before older people can be confident of the good nutritional care they deserve. We have drawn together principles of best practice and examples of what already works well in countering malnutrition as well as identified barriers and have formed this guide. It is designed to help you take action and make the changes needed to improve nutrition and hydration care for your patients.

We urge you to work together to implement change and provide safe and high quality care that ensures the dignity of each and every patient.”

For more information, interviews and comment:
Philippa Cahill 0207 492 1973 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1Calculation based on BAPEN national screening weeks 2007­11

*The Malnutrition Task Force is an independent group of experts across Health, Social Care and Local government united to address the problem of preventable malnutrition in older people.

Membership of the Malnutrition Task Force on 13 Feb 2013
Chair: Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL Chairman Age UK and Co-chair of Dignity Commission
Co-chair: Dr Mike Stroud, Bapen


  • Jane Ashcroft, CEO, Anchor Trust
  • Dr. Ailsa Brotherton, Senior Research Fellow, Univ of Central Lancs
  • Andrew Foster, C.E., Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tim Hammond, C.E., Elior and Trustee of Age UK
  • Sue Hawkins, Dorset County Council and National Association of Care Catering
  • Helena Herklots, CEO, Carers UK
  • Brian Hills, representing older people and carers
  • Prof. Paul Knight, President, British Geriatrics Society
  • Caroline Lecko, Patient Safety Lead, NHS Commissioning Board
  • Dr Berenice Lopez, Consultant Chemical Pathologist with Metabolic Medicine, Harrogate NHS Trust, representing RCGP
  • Jonathan Mason, Clinical Adviser (Medicines), NHS North East London and the City
  • Tracy Paine, Royal College of Nursing and Operations Director, Belong
  • Bill Robertson, Strategic Dir. Adult Care, Derbyshire County Council and ADASS
  • Caroline Trevithick, Chief Nurse and Quality Lead, West Leicestershire CCG
  • Dr. Lisa Wilson, Public Health Nutritionist, International Longevity Centre
  • Rick Wilson, Director of Nutrition and Dietetics, King’s College Hospital
  • Carole Wood, Director of Public Health, Gateshead PCT
  • Sarah Wren, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire LA Community Meals Service


  • Linda Jennings, WRVS
  • Dr Rebecca Stratton, Nutricia and Institute of Human Nutrition, Southampton Univ
  • Helen Blunn, Apetito
  • Ruthe Isden, Policy Programme Manager, Age UK

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