The importance of hydration for older people

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29 June 2012

The importance of hydration for older people

Dame Jo Williams, Chair, Care Quality Commission  shares her thoughts on domicilliary care inspection

by Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Ph.D. MIHM

Recently I co- chaired  with Baroness Masham the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum event ‘ Elderly nutrition and dignity in hospitals and social care: quality standards, engagement and compassion’. Dame Jo Williams  was the key note speaker.

Dame Jo outlined the dignity and nutrition inspection (DANI) programme and shared with us the findings of the inspections carried out in the hospitals and care homes. She also narrated her personal experiences of the inspections that she had shadowed.

Dame Jo raised concerns about nutrition and hydration issues in a home care setting. She particularly talked about older people not drinking enough due to the fear that they may not get to the toilet in time which could result in an urinary infection and a hospital admission. Such things could be avoided by the care workers who should be aware of the need for good hydration and the role they can play in ensuring older people drink enough fluids.

When asked about the inspections into domiciliary care she acknowledged the challenges involved in assessing what happens in people’s own homes and informed the audience that CQC were looking at the methodology drawing from the lessons learnt in other sectors specifically the use of ‘experts by experience’1 in inspections. She indicated that there will also be emphasis on how home care is commissioned by the councils especially the time slots provided for care workers. Dame Jo also highlighted the need for investment into keeping people healthy in their own homes and hoped that the impending social care white paper following on from Dilnot review will provide some opportunities for dignified and safe care for older people in their own homes.

Dame Jo concluded her keynote address by asking members of public and professionals to share good practice examples as well as bring poor practice to the attention of the regulator.

All in all it was a very honest and personal account of the current and future programme in this area.

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