As the hot summer rolls on, a report by Healthwatch Surrey has highlighted and commended some positive interventions by Surrey Downs CCG in improving hydration and nutrition among older and frail care home residents in the region.
Since launching their Quality in Care Homes (QiCH) programme in January 2017, the clinical commissioning group has worked successfully with one third of the 71 care homes in Surrey Downs, helping to effect a reduction in hospital admissions due to urine infections, falls and complications stemming from existing cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.
In the report, which can be read in full here the independent health watchdog praises the QiCH team for its sensitive approach to offering tailored support and advice to management and staff. ‘Care homes reported that the QICH team come into the homes and get to know the issues, which is important to the care home teams,’ it says. ‘The QICH team are seen as experts who are trusted to give good advice alongside emotional support and understanding.’
Jennifer Halliday, Urgent Care and Integration Project Support Manager at Surrey Downs CCG, says, “Keeping cool, hydrated and well fed in hot weather is vital for the health of older people, especially those over 65 years and living in care homes. Heatwaves can prove fatal in some cases, but with proper hydration and nutrition many ill effects can be avoided. Six to eight glasses of fluids a day is the ideal but this can be hard to achieve.
“In care homes we created ‘hydration stations’ so residents were better able to serve themselves water, squash and other drinks at any point throughout the day, without having to wait for food service or ask a member of staff.
“Warm weather can also reduce people’s appetite so we shared recipes for light and tasty finger food, jelly shots, fortified milkshakes and healthy fruit smoothies and encouraged residents to get involved in making these, as part of fun cookery activities. High fluid foods also count towards intake – think about watermelon, oranges and tomatoes.”
One manager is quoted in the report commenting, “We had a lady with dementia who usually refused to eat and she loves the milkshakes. Her MUST scores have gone from 2 to 0. We’re not so worried about her now and only have to weigh her once a month. The smoothies are also very popular, they are very rich and full of goodness.”
Another care home stated that the team’s interventions enabled the sharing of ideas and best practice, leading to an increase in confidence and quality improvements. “I see her [named team member] as an associate, a clinical lead, she makes contacts, connections for us. If any time I need advice I feel I could call and she would tell me or search for the answer for me.”
Carol Kirby, manager at Cossins House care home in Cobham, endorsed the QiCH project saying, “I would like to give a huge thank you to the Quality in Care Homes team in supporting us with hydration and nutrition. Nothing is too much trouble for them and the staff have thoroughly enjoyed the training.
“We now have better awareness of issues relating to dehydration resulting in improved accessibility to refreshments for care home residents – we always ensure glasses of water are within easy reach.”