Integrated person-centred care

Hydration & Nutrition For People With Dementia

Today’s article looks at some of the great new tools being pioneered by the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) to help carers to improve the way they provide good hydration and nutrition to those in their care with dementia. We caught up with Jane Murphy who heads up the research, at a recent seminar hosted by the Hampshire Care Association and the rest of the article is formed from our conversations.

At Nourish we’re know that many people in care who suffer with dementia struggle with eating and drinking. This is often a contributing factor to poor health, reduced quality of life, and accelerate deterioration as a person’s dementia develops. It is also an increasing problem as care providers must meet Regulation 14 of the Health and Social Care Act to ensure that the people they look after have enough to eat and drink. This isn’t just about enough food and drink to meet their nutrition and hydration needs, but also they must receive the support they need to do so.

Prioritising hydration and nutrition support for people with dementia

As we know, the old adage of, “you get out what you put in” is never more true than with your body and the nutrients you take. Therefore, supporting older people who have dementia to eat and drink properly should be a priority for care staff. However, despite the importance, there are a lack of research, evidence and tools to support good practice. This becomes clear when you realise that there are no standardised approaches or training programmes to provide staff with information about nutrition for people with dementia.

The BUDI secured funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing, allowing Jane and the team of researchers at Bournemouth University to work with care providers, charities and local authorities in Dorset to research best practice in more detail and create the means to support care to provide robust nutritional care.

What can care providers access to help?

Jane and BUDI’s research culminated in a report called “Eating and Drinking well: supporting people living with dementia”. The report also includes a training film which can help show carers how to improve their practices and enhance their skills to provide a better eating and drinking experience for people in their care, who’re living with dementia.

You can access the training film online by visiting the BUDI area of Bournemouth University’s website. Jane’s team also developed a training book to be used alongside the video, which is packed with best practice, tips and concepts to try out, including:

  • Getting the people in care involved in food preparation activities, including growing their own fruit and vegetables in order to help stimulate their interest
  • Promoting people eating meals together with their carers, as this helps people with dementia to mimic actions if they’re struggling with the process of eating
  • Providing people with visual choices between foods instead of a written menu in order to stimulate appetite and encourage participation
  • Make the environment in which food is served more appealing. This could be anything from thinking about the colours, smells to the lighting care settings use at meal times.

Where can you go for more information on hydration and nutrition?

More information about the workbook, and BUDI can be found by visiting Understanding Nutrition and Dementia.