Monday 26th November, 2018, London – BAPEN is concerned to see the Guardian report ‘Hundreds of care home patients have died dehydrated or malnourished’. The report highlights that Office of National Statistics figures that show that from 2013 to 2017, malnutrition was recorded 226 times on patient death certificates as either the underlying cause of death or a contributory factor.
The figures have been obtained by the Guardian from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which completed an analysis of death certificates at the newspaper’s request.
Dr Trevor Smith, BAPEN President, commented on the figures, saying:
“It is extremely worrying that malnutrition and dehydration are listed as a cause or contributory factor to so many care home deaths, but not surprising because our own figures show that 35% of people are at risk of malnutrition when they move into a care home and we know that nutritional care services vary. We developed the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (‘MUST’) to enable all social and healthcare professionals to screen for malnutrition risk and we believe that its uptake and regular use in all care homes is the first step in tackling this problem.”
“However, this problem will not be solved simply by focusing on care home standards. One in ten older people are at risk of malnutrition and we really need better public education, education for GPs and other community-based healthcare professionals to ensure that the signs and symptoms are spotted early. There is also a considerable amount of work to be done to improve the discharge process from hospital to care homes.”
“We are continually engaged in monitoring nutrition care in care homes as we are in healthcare settings, and urge all care homes to use our Nutritional Care Tool which enables them to assess their own service and provides us with valuable data on nutritional care standards.”
For the first time in 2018 BAPEN ran a UK Malnutrition Awareness Week in partnership with the Malnutrition Task Force which was focused on raising awareness of the ‘hidden’ problem of malnutrition in older people. The campaign highlighted that one in ten older people is at risk and called for policy makers to recognise that preventing and treating malnutrition relies on increasing public awareness and professional training, alongside an integrated system of health and social care along with timely support for older people, their carers and families.
Care plan templates as developed with the NNNG can be found on the Malnutrition Pathway website (https://www.malnutritionpathway.co.uk/careplans).