How difficult can it be to take a glass of water, put it to a patient’s lips and get them to drink?
Most readers of Nursing Times know just how difficult it can be. It may be because the thickened fluids are unpalatable, or the water is too hot or too cold; perhaps someone forgot to put sugar in the tea or added too much but the patient can’t tell you.
Encouraging patients to drink can be a battle of wills, with the nurse desperate to record some intake on a fluid chart and avoid the need for an IV with the patient just not feeling up to it. All the while, family members are anxiously flipping through the charts and wondering why their loved one’s fluid intake is so poor.
When things get difficult it is up to nurses to rise to the challenge and think about how they can do things differently. For example, the author of an article in this week’s issue looked at types of thickener used in the care homes where she worked. She highlighted the importance of getting the right product and using it correctly to improve not only the texture and appearance of fluids but also patient safety.
Another nurse, Naomi Campbell who is hydration lead at Peninsula Community Health, has developed the “micro-straw”, a device that allows patients to independently sip fluids with minimal effort, in order to reduce reliance on nursing staff. She has received £15,000 from NHS Innovations Southwest to develop her idea.
We can’t all invent a new device but every nurse can do something to improve fluid and nutrition intake.
This is International Nutrition and Hydration Week and at Nursing Times we have organised a number of key activities throughout the week to help you to improve your practice, including free access to clinical articles, an ask-the-expert webchat, and on Wednesday you can complete our Nutrition Screening learning unit free of charge. To find out more, visit www.nursingtimes.net/nutrition
Full list of events on NT:
Monday 17 March:
We reveal this week’s free articles on the Nutrition and Hydration clinical zone.
Tuesday 18 March:
Throughout the day we will be tweeting facts and useful links, follow @NursingTimes to take part.
1pm: Ask the Expert Webchat – we’re joined by experts from the National Nurses Nutrition Group who will be answering your questions live on our webchat page. If you can’t join us at this time, you can email your questions to Eileen.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will ask them for you. A transcript will be available following the chat.
Wednesday 19 March:
Our Nutrition Screening learning unit will be FREE for 24 hours.
Thursday 20 March:
Pledge Day – tell us what you could do differently to improve nutrition and hydration in your area. Our favourite will win a nursing textbook from Sage Publishing.
Join in through twitter or on the Nutrition and Hydration page.
Friday 21 March:
Free CPD – These two learning units will be FREE to complete throughout the day:
- Dysphagia unit
- Obesity – an introduction to management in adults