A project to improve the health of care home residents in Torbay and South Devon by ensuring they drink enough is aiming to reduce fall injuries and illnesses.
Dieticians from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust are running the project to help stop older people from getting dehydrated which can leading them to feeling light-headed, falling and sustaining fractures.
The project supports the Trust’s aim to help people to be well and at home – helping alleviate demand for stretched the hospital emergency department, community services and GP call-outs, especially during winter.
Rosie Bonney, Community Dietician for the Trust, said: “Not drinking enough regularly can lead to dizziness and for older and vulnerable people to falls and fractures and other illneses associated with dehydration. All older people need extra support in drinking enough because they don’t always feel thirsty – the body’s natural reaction to ageing – but they still need hydration and can sometimes forget to drink.”
There are other benefits, including reducing urinary tract infections and antibiotic use, reduced incidence of pressures sores and constipation. Increased hydration can also lead to less need for prescribing medications, such as laxatives.
The project, one of only a few in the region, aims to reduce dehydration by improving hydration awareness and practices among care home residents and staff. This in turn, should reduce falls and illnesses associated with dehydration.
Rosie added: “So far the results are encouraging in all homes, with a reduction in falls measured in at least one home. This is very good for the residents because it improves their quality of life – they are happier and healthier.”
Kerry Osman, manager of Bascombe Court (one of the project care homes), said: “This is a great project and we are seeing the benefits in the health and happiness of our residents already. We keep our families informed and they are also reinforcing our messages.
“Our staff are all motivated and enthusiastic about it and enjoying taking part. We have a hydration advice notice board which they are all take turns to research and update.”
Jean Steer, Bascombe Court resident, said: “The staff are really good and helping us all drink a little more regularly. They are making it a fun event. I mostly drink water. I drink during the day and night. I know it’s very important to stay well and so does my daughter when she visits. Some of us do need a lot more reminding when to drink and how vital it is.”
Each care home in the project has staff `Hydration Champions’ who are then trained in hydration (covering falls training, continence training, swallowing difficulties and recognising hydration). Hydration Champions advise colleagues on implementing resident drinks rounds and drinks stations. All staff receive broader hydration training.
The Trust has been awarded £10,000 by the ‘Improved Better Care’ funding from local authorities in Devon to run the five-month project in six care homes, the other five are: The Warberries, in Torquay; Redmount, Buckfastleigh; Cornerways, Paignton; Hyne Town House, Dartmouth, and Somerforde in Newton Abbot.