SALLY Rogers, executive nurse and director of quality, NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG
IF you have a loved one living in an Eastern Cheshire care home, you’ll be pleased to read about a new service that’s helping residents get the nutrition they need while ensuring they are only prescribed nutritional supplements when necessary.
Funded by the CCG and provided by East Cheshire NHS Trust, the dietetics service is run by two dietitians and a dietetic assistant who visit the area’s 60-plus care homes to advise on: Nutritional care plans Signs and symptoms of malnutrition and dehydration
Referring residents to other healthcare professionals
The service encourages a food-first approach to the treatment of malnutrition.
In other words, the use of supplements as a matter of course is discouraged while recognising that they are needed in certain circumstances.
This new approach will help improve the health of care home residents because we know that effective treatment of malnutrition in the community can reduce:
Hospital admissions and lengths of stay Pressure ulcers Inappropriate prescribing of supplements
The service sees residents within two weeks of receiving a referral from the GP twinned with the home in question. Referred residents are then assessed for malnutrition and given advice on the right diet and, if appropriate, a recommendation is made for a prescription supplement. A nutritional care plan is then agreed with care home staff and with residents who have sufficient mental capacity.
The service also offers detailed training to staff – including chefs, and provides literature on diets to meet the needs of care home residents.
The clinical consequences of malnutrition can include weakening of the immune system, reduced muscle strength, impaired wound healing and poor recovery from illness and surgery.
That’s why I’m delighted that the CCG and trust are working together to ensure that care home residents are benefiting from sound dietary advice that’s ensuring the best possible outcomes while improving quality of life.
In the first six months since its launch last April, the dietetics service saved nearly £145,000 in reduced prescribing of nutritional supplements – or £22,000 more than the annual £123,000 cost of running the service.
Reduced expenditure on supplements has brought the CCG in line with the national average and reversed a longrunning trend of annual rises of up to 10 per cent, with the CCG spending around £1m on supplements in 2015-16.