Malnutrition is both a cause and a consequence of disease.
A report by BAPEN, formally known as British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and Patients on Intravenous and Neogastric Treatment in March 2014, Nutritional Care and the Patient Voice, confirmed the lack of progress in improving care for vulnerable patients with complex nutritional needs.
Malnutrition can only be managed if there are policies in place which are followed and reviewed. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (Nice) Clinical Guidance 32 concludes: “Improving systematic screening, assessment and treatment of malnutrition would result in better nourished patients and… reduced complications, admissions, and length of stay.” Nice says that if implemented, this guidance could achieve savings of £78,000 per 100,000 people. Support must be tailored to patients’ needs, which might mean nutritional advice, oral supplements or even enteral nutrition. It is important to intervene early and monitor outcomes.
Nutricia strives to ensure people consistently receive the right nutritional care at the right time. It is estimated that three million people are malnourished or at risk in the UK. This, combined with an ageing population and an increase in conditions associated with malnutrition, such as dementia, means the challenge of addressing this issue has never been greater. We need prevention and management strategies to help people remain independent for longer. Nutricia actively raises awareness and works with others on solutions. It has worked with Carers UK to help carers to understand good nutrition. This partnership aims to “ensure the best quality of life and nutritional care for you, your family and the people you look after”. It demonstrates how a provider can work with the third sector to ensure good nutritional care.
Nutricia is a founding member of the Malnutrition Task Force, a group of experts from health, social care and local government, which addresses malnutrition in older people. It has ministerial support and representation from a wide range of professional organisations, care home providers, community meal providers, charities, NGOs and the International Longevity Centre. In May 2013, it launched four guides under the title, Prevention and Early Intervention of Malnutrition in Later Life, covering all of the care settings (local communities, hospitals, care homes) and also food and beverage providers. It also published a report entitled Impact of Malnutrition and Cost Benefits of Intervention. It is now executing five UK pilot projects designed to tackle nutrition.
There are well recognised guidelines in place from Nice and the Managing Adult Malnutrition Community pathway. Malnutrition puts pressure on the whole health and care system, and it should be prioritised with a true integrated approach that means health, social care, the industry, and voluntary sectors all working together, focused on providing the most appropriate care, including nutrition for the individual wherever they are living.
Kate Hall, external affairs manager, Nutricia
Column sponsored and supplied by Nutricia, www.nutricia.co.uk
Offer the right nutritional care at the right time