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HEALTH & SAFEETY


Fuel For Life


Food and drink are vital to maintaining everyone’s health, regardless of age or illness. However, dementia sufferers often lose the ability to recognise signs of hunger and thirst. Jill Conroy, Practice Development Lead for Dementia at The Fremantle Trust, offers some advice on practical ways care staff can help.


For people living with dementia, poor nutrition and a lack of hydration increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections, delirium, pressure ulcers, falls, hospital admission and untimely death.


In its Care Update 2013, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) stated: “In more than half of Primary Care Trust (PCT) areas in the country, people with dementia living in a care home are more likely to go into hospital with avoidable conditions (such as urinary infections, dehydration and pressure sores) than similar people without dementia. Once in hospital, people with dementia are more likely to stay there longer, to be readmitted, and to die there.”


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The care sector regulator is highlighting a very simple fact – that in many cases, malnourishment and dehydration in people who have dementia is avoidable. As workers in this field, we have a duty of care as well as a moral responsibility to reduce these risks and focus on ensuring individuals in our care eat and drink well.


The following are suggestions, derived from evidence based best practice, which will be of practical value to those who support people who have dementia.


Proactive Care A person who has dementia may lose the ability to recognise and interpret the signs of hunger and thirst. As a


result, they are less likely to request food or drink than their cognitively sound counterparts. Even when provided with food or fluid, they may be unable to initiate a seemingly simple action which others take for granted, such as picking up a cup and bringing it to their mouth.


The carers of people living with dementia – whether at home, in hospital or in a care setting – therefore have to develop the skill of being proactive. This list was created to help employees at The Fremantle Trust think about what ‘proactive’ means:


• Person centred – know who you are supporting, know their individual story


www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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