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Proper nutrition and hydration play a crucial role in maintaining the health and well-being of elderly residents in care homes. It is essential to provide them with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs while also considering their individual preferences and requirements.

Laura Hemmings, a Marketing Executive and former chef at a nursing and residential home offers valuable insights and practical advice for care home catering teams on enhancing residents’ nutrition and hydration, particularly during the upcoming summer months.

The need for food fortification

Fortifying meals with essential nutrients can benefit residents with specific dietary deficiencies or conditions such as osteoporosis or anaemia. Including nutrient-rich ingredients and supplements, such as fortified milk or whole grains, can help improve the residents’ overall nutritional intake.

Malnutrition is a serious issue for elderly individuals, as it can lead to various adverse health outcomes. Addressing malnutrition in care homes can be challenging, as elderly residents may have difficulty consuming enough food to meet their nutritional needs. This can be due to various factors, including difficulty chewing or swallowing, reduced appetite, or a lack of interest in food. 

By providing key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and more through commonly consumed foods, care homes can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote the long-term well-being of their residents.

3 ways to boost nutrition through food fortification

1. Add high-calorie dairy

Enhance the nutritional value of dishes like soups, porridge, and desserts by incorporating high-calorie dairy options such as cream, butter, and full-fat milk. For residents who are at risk of malnourishment, offer fortified milkshakes made with ice cream, cream, milk, and natural flavourings like fruit. These indulgent shakes can significantly elevate their daily calorie intake and promote better nourishment.

2. Ensure residents receive an adequate protein intake

Protein is a vital component for muscle-building, so including protein-enriched food and beverages in residents’ diets can be beneficial. For example, Frezz Orange Juice + Protein by Oranka Juice Solutions, is a fortified orange juice containing 11.03 grams of essential proteins per 150ml glass and can provide residents with a strong start to their day.

3. Ensure every resident receives tailored nutrition that caters to their unique needs

These needs may include religious or medical dietary requirements, small appetites, and dysphagia. With meal service Apetito, care homes can offer a diverse range of prepared dishes specially designed to accommodate these needs. From high-calorie fortified meals for reduced appetites to a texture-modified range for those with dysphagia, Apetito provides comprehensive solutions to fulfil each resident’s nutritional requirements.

The importance of hydration

Ensuring residents are properly hydrated in care homes can also be challenging, with multiple factors contributing to dehydration, including thirst sensation decreases with age, memory loss, and difficulty in accessing drinks.

Research shows that dehydration is common among patients admitted to hospital from care homes. Dehydration contributes to several health problems, including kidney failure, urinary tract infections, and light-headedness leading to an increased risk of falls.

Hydration is key in ensuring residents’ health and well-being, so care home staff must be properly trained in providing an adequate amount and range of beverages and monitoring fluid intake.

5 effective solutions to ensure optimal hydration levels

1. Cater to diverse tastes

Expand beverage options by offering a diverse range of hot and cold drinks to satisfy various preferences and encourage hydration.

2. Address individual needs and make it easy to access

Equip your facility with a variety of specialised cups and glasses to accommodate residents’ specific requirements. This includes providing cups with lids for easy sipping, straws for individuals with reduced mobility, and brightly coloured opaque cups for those with vision impairments. Provide easy-access juices, such as Oranka’s 1+19 all day fruit juice with added vitamin C, served from a dispenser.

3. Summer adaptation

Revise your hydration plan to account for the increased liquid intake needed during hotter months. Incorporate refreshing options like melon and ice lollies to provide additional hydration and enjoyment.

4. Regular tea breaks

Introduce scheduled tea breaks throughout the day to establish essential routines, particularly beneficial for residents with dementia. Consistent tea breaks promote hydration and familiarity.

5. Make it fun

Access a range of resources and tools aimed at promoting better hydration within care homes with Tetley, a renowned tea brand. From engaging tea-themed puzzles to Tetley Tea Party kits, these resources offer enjoyable activities that encourage residents to stay hydrated. Check out their Tea Party Kits here.

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