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Hydration key to older people’s health

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MSc Advanced Practice graduate Lesley Spall who has created a hydration toolkit for care homes

UCLan alumna creates toolkit to improve hydration in care homes

The work of a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) nursing graduate is gaining national interest in the health world.

Lesley Spall, who currently works with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, has created and implemented an innovative bespoke hydration toolkit to improve hydration within care homes and NHS England has shown an interest in including her resources within a countrywide guide.

The toolkit aims to increase the awareness of signs and symptoms of dehydration in older people. The pick and mix resource includes voice presentations and innovative and creative fluid monitoring charts. There are also posters for kitchen, dining and reception areas of care homes all with the aim of increasing awareness about hydration.

This is all about ensuring service users remain hydrated and that is absolutely crucial to maintaining their health and wellbeing.

Lesley, who graduated from the MSc in Advanced Practice in 2015, said: “This is all about ensuring service users remain hydrated and that is absolutely crucial to maintaining their health and wellbeing. The hydration toolkit suggest strategies to improve hydration and prevent hospital admissions due to dehydration.”

The toolkit has been rolled out locally, as well as nationally. At present 33 local care homes have the resources while outside of Greater Preston and Chorley & South Ribble, 73 care homes or NHS organisations have been sent the toolkit.

The married mum-of-one started the research while studying at UCLan and she has developed it while working as an advanced nurse practitioner and clinical lead for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The 43-year-old said: “Dehydration is a common problem among older adults, with serious consequences associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

“There are almost three times as many beds in care homes as in the NHS and within the Central Lancashire footprint there are over 3,000 care homes beds providing nursing and residential care for our older people. There was a lack of bespoke guidance for care homes as the focus was on the acute hospitals and malnutrition.”

 

The toolkit is one-of-a-kind and includes strategies to improve hydration and educate care staff on the absolute need for people to remain well watered.

To ensure it was truly bespoke, Lesley worked with care home staff in the design, construction, implementation, evaluation and refining stages. She also gave education sessions in care homes to help staff devise strategies for managing fluid intake whether a resident can drink, cannot drink or does not want to.

Lesley’s work was recognised when she was named as a finalist in the Nursing Older People category of the 2016 RCNi (Royal College of Nursing) Nurse Awards.

Tanya Hibbert, Head of Operations at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “For older people to remain hydrated is absolutely crucial. Lesley has carried out some sterling and thought-provoking innovative work in putting this important toolkit together to ensure elderly people in care homes remain well hydrated. The toolkit is one-of-a-kind and includes strategies to improve hydration and educate care staff on the absolute need for people to remain well watered.”

Rachel Atkinson | 27 March 2017