is to improve diagnostic tools. In the meantime, there are symptoms to look for which may help:

• Is the urine dark in colour when it should be a pale lemon colour?

“At the BWCA, we are asking care homes to put in place strategies to stamp out

unnecessary dehydration”

• Are there notable pulse rate and blood pressure changes?

• Does the resident seem more disoriented than is usual and with speech difficulty?

• Is there upper body weakness?

• Are they complaining of tongue and mouth dryness?

• Is the resident or patient complaining of headaches?

All these symptoms may be signs of dehydration.

Clinical outcomes - hospitalisation, illness and even fatalities due to or associated with dehydration - are not the only cost. There is a financial cost too: dehydration costs the NHS and care homes a lot of money. It prolongs stays in hospital for those already there; and it is all too oſten a cause of admission to hospital with UTIs being a particular problem. In short, it pays to hydrate people.

Watercoolers, either bottled or mains-fed, offer the facility of fresh, appetizing water to be available 24/7, easily available where the residents or patients are. Water coolers can offer a safe and accessible hydration solution but not all coolers are - 23 -

created equal. We advise that you obtain your coolers from an accredited member of the British Water Cooler Association as then you have the guarantee that they are rigorously audited to a high standard of best practice, safety and hygiene.

For those patients who need to reduce calories, such as diabetic or overweight patients, water can be particularly helpful for sipping throughout the day. Water is also tooth-friendly, and so the consumption of water in place of sugary drinks can help dental and gum health.

It is important to remember that nursing and care staff also need to remain healthily hydrated. A water cooler is a quick and easy way for staff to grab a drink and stay hydrated whilst on a busy shiſt. Their energy and alertness resulting from good hydration will enable them to remain alert to the needs of those who they are caring for. And a cooler on hand means they don’t have to find time for a prolonged break... they can hydrate on the go without waiting for official refreshment breaks.

www. bwca. org. uk

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