Nutrition and Hydration Awareness

Nutrition and Hydration Week is on March 14th-20th 2016

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From their website:

—————Maintaining Nutrition and Hydration in Patients—————

Our mission is to create a global movement that will reinforce and focus, energy, activity and engagement on nutrition and hydration as an important part of quality care, experience and safety improvement in health and social care settings.


This is truly an awareness week. Being mindful of our patients’ diet and fluid intake is crucial to their recovery whilst in hospital and keeping an eye on your patients in the community can mean you catch nutritional problems before they progress.

Take for example hydration on a hospital ward:

We all know the water jug system of three different coloured lids signifying water being changed three times a day. Which is lovely if your unit has enough of each colour lid left. But the system still leaves a great deal to be desired.

Who changes the water jugs? Is it you, maybe a healthcare support worker, maybe domestic staff? Did anyone take note of whether the patient actually drank any of the water?

Did the patient have an appropriate cup that they could grab a hold of? Could they pick up the jug to refill their own cup themselves? Could they reach the jug on their table? Do they need a straw or lidded cup so they don’t spill water everywhere?

How many times have we taken a patient’s blood pressure, noticed it is slightly low and recommended they drink some more water? If they are dehydrated, why is that the case? Are they feeling nauseous? Would they really prefer some juice or a hot drink? I know I personally prefer very cold water and struggle with room temperature water. Could you go and refill their jug with fresh cold water – would it really take that long that you can’t fit it onto your to-do list? If it would, then can you delegate to someone else?

The same goes for diet on a ward. Have you cleared away a food tray that is nearly full? Why? Are they feeling nauseous? Did they get the wrong meal? Was it cold when it finally arrived? Did they need support with eating? What are you now going to do to ensure they get something to eat because just waiting till the next meal time isn’t appropriate?

We need to ask ourselves how well we actually monitor nutrition and hydration. Are there systems in place to help us do this, or is it all left up to how well we remember to monitor it ourselves? Be honest with yourself – is it something you forget? If so, why not talk to other members of the team. Think up a way to support each other in making certain things like this don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of every shift.

Remember to stop for a moment and empathise with the patient – then talk to them about what you can do to make it better.

I personally believe that sometimes we, as nurses/student nurses, don’t ask patients their preferences for fear that we can’t accommodate their wishes. And yes, this may be true some of the time – but we should do what we can and we won’t know what will help until we ask!