Commissioning care homes: common safeguarding challenges
Common safeguarding issues – Poor nutritional care
Poor nutritional care in care homes and hospitals has been frequently highlighted in recent years. This led to a host of reports and guidance to support improvements in the health and social care sectors. As part of the Joint Action Plan: Improving nutritional care (DH, 2007), SCIE has produced a comprehensive guide on this issue.
Food is the 'highlight of the day' for many people in care homes and a measure of the overall quality of the service. Between 19 and 30 per cent of all people admitted to hospitals, care homes or mental health units are at risk of malnutrition (BAPEN 2007). The consequences of malnutrition and dehydration can be very costly both for the individual, in terms of their health and wellbeing, and for services as people may become ill and require more intervention for longer.
- The home carries out nutritional screening for residents on admission and regularly thereafter.
- Care plans reflect the individual's nutritional needs, including those as a result of medical conditions or risk of malnutrition.
- Concerns highlighted in screening are acted upon and timely referrals are made to community health professionals.
- Daily food and fluid intake is recorded for those who are identified at risk.
- The home provides a choice of good quality food in adequate amounts.
- Privacy is offered to those who have difficulties eating or need help and may wish to avoid loss of dignity in communal eating areas.
- The food is well prepared in a safe environment and food hygiene standards are met.
- Individual needs and preferences, including any specific dietary, cultural and religious requirements, are recorded in individual care plans and catered for.
- Residents have access to food and drink 24 hours a day.
- Food is provided in an environment conducive to eating and with regard to individual choice (e.g. when and where people want to eat).
- The home ensures that there are sufficient staff and volunteers to support those in need of help and encouragement to eat their food.
- Residents who are able to prepare their own snacks and drinks are encouraged to do so.
- The home seeks regular feedback from residents on the quality of food provision.