An online tool designed to identify patients living in the community at risk of malnutrition has been launched by the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.
The new malnutrition self-screening tool, which is free to use, is designed to help adults living in the community to identify their own risk of malnutrition.
“It could reduce dependency on others and admissions to hospital and other care settings”
It is based on weight status and history of weight loss, using criteria already incorporated into BAPEN’s existing and widely used Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST).
Individuals identified as being at risk of malnutrition, can download a dietary advice sheet that gives them basic information and suggestions for improving their nutritional intake, until they receive further advice from a healthcare professional.
This dietary advice sheet, developed as a consensus recommendation by a wide range of professional organisations, provides guidance healthcare professionals on the management of malnutrition in the community, said BAPEN.
The organisation suggested that self-screening could help in the prevention and management of malnutrition, and therefore prevent unnecessary consultations and admissions.
“A simple tool which anyone can access is a great way to raise awareness of the risk of malnutrition”
Christine Russell, who co-designed the tool, said it was hoped the tool would help “tackle unrecognised and untreated malnutrition, which exists in the community”.
She said: “If malnutrition can be prevented or identified and treated at an early stage it could reduce dependency on others and admissions to hospital and other care settings. It could also help family members who are often concerned about weight loss and changes in appetite when a loved one is unwell.”
Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, said the charity welcomed the launch of BAPEN’s new malnutrition self-screening tool.
Ms Holzhausen noted that a recent survey had found one in eight of those being cared for were at risk of malnutrition and many people had not received the right nutritional information or advice.
“A simple tool which anyone can access is a great way to raise awareness of the risk of malnutrition and to get families asking the right questions so that they can get the right support making everyone healthier and more confident as a result,” she said.