by Jen Grant- Project Dietitian @JenGrantRD @EatWellScot
Malnutrition (as under-nutrition) is a serious health concern amongst older people in Scotland that often goes undetected, untreated, and unrecorded. Malnutrition can severely impact an older person’s quality of life and often leads to increased hospital admissions; increased lengths of hospital stays and an increased demands on health and social care services.
Regular screening for malnutrition can help identify those at risk early on and allow the person at risk to receive advice and support before the problem becomes much worse. Malnutrition is not something that is regularly screened for in the community in Scotland and that is why this year during UK Malnutrition Awareness Week (11th-17th October 2021) Eat Well Age Well is asking you to help build the picture of malnutrition in Scotland.
Let’s Build the Picture refers to the call to everyone working in community settings to work together to uncover the true prevalence of malnutrition in the community. Most malnutrition occurs in people living at home, yet rates of malnutrition in community dwelling older adults are less well known in comparison to reported rates during hospital admissions or care home/residential care. There is an urgent need to better understand the true picture of malnutrition to inform local and national policy, practice and subsequently improve health outcomes for older adults.
Malnourished people have an increased rate of falls, increased risk of frailty and an increased risk of infection and illness. Early identification and treatment is key and those who work directly with older people in the community are very well placed to use simple tools to identify those at risk of malnutrition and provide simple first line advice alongside an existing treatment plan. As a dietitian I am well aware of how well placed my AHP colleagues are to identify malnutrition risk in the community but also of the difficulties that can arise when trying to embed new processes into an already busy case load. Eat Well Age Well aims to empower you and your teams to incorporate tools such as the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist and the PaperWeight Armband into your day to day work to help you identify those at risk of malnutrition. We provide bespoke training and support to help you build the picture of malnutrition within your service and do something about it.
You can find out more about our training, the tools, and our resources at www.eatwellagewell.org.uk and be sure to follow @EatWellScot on twitter and use the hashtag #LetsBuildThePicture to see how you can get involved during UK Malnutrition Awareness Week.