A simple, award-winning invention that helps keeps patients hydrated is being rolled out from hospital beds to community health services.
The “Hydrant” won the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2013 and provides a simple way for people to drink while allowing health practitioners to monitor fluid intake to reduce the risk of dehydration.
Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust introduced the device into four community hospitals last year and is one of only three organisations in the country to be awarded £62,500 of additional funding from NHS England to extend the programme to specialist nursing teams in the community.
Healthcare assistant Mercier Adams, who has helped encourage use of the bottle among patients at Vale Community Hospital, said: “We recently had a patient here with multiple sclerosis, and when she first came in she couldn’t move. She couldn’t reach a jug of water or a cup.
“She was so pleased with the Hydrant because she was still able to drink whenever she liked. It was absolutely ideal for her.
“Some of our older patients can’t lift a jug of water – and if they try to and spill the water it puts them off trying again which makes things worse. With the Hydrant bottle it’s much easier for them and their fluid intake is better.”
NHS England has estimated that for every £1 spent on the Hydrant it saves £16 in care costs resulting from dehydration and its complications.
The system comprises a bottle which clips to the side of beds, chairs or wheelchairs and a long drinking tube to allow easy access to fluids where mobility issues during recovery can make drinking hard. The tube features a bite down valve to prevent leaks, a non-return system for hygiene and a clip to attach to clothing.
The trust has used the Hydrant successfully in its three community hospitals and is now looking at ways to use it out in the community – for example, extending it to specialist nursing teams and recently launched rapid response teams.
Its longer term aim is to be able to send patients home with the device so those with reduced mobility can continue to stay hydrated in their own homes.
The Hydrant was invented by Mark Moran after a serious spinal operation left him bed-bound and stationary. His experience of struggling to reach the water jug led him to create the new system, making water always easily accessible.
The trust’s announcement coincides with Nutrition and Hydration week, which runs from 17-21 March.
The event, a collaboration between the Hospital Caterers Association, National Association of Care Catering and Patient Safety First, aims to promote key messages associated with good nutrition and hydration.