guidance adviceThe British Dietetic Association (BDA) has heralded the new guidance document: Commissioning Excellence Nutrition and Hydration (2015-2018), produced by NHS England. BDA Chief Executive, Andy Burman, sat on the National Strategic Advisory Group that developed this piece of work.

The British Dietetic Association, founded in 1936, is the professional association for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals with more than 8000 members. The BDA is also an active trade union.

Malnutrition and dehydration are both causes and consequences of illness, have significant impacts on health outcomes and are integral to all care pathways. Surprisingly, these problems are still poorly recognized in the English community and healthcare settings, despite numerous reports that have highlighted the fact that individuals in these settings often receive inadequate nutrition and hydration.

The aim of this guidance is to support commissioners to address these issues and develop strategies to improve the delivery and commissioning of excellent nutrition and hydration care in acute services and the community. Commissioning Excellence Nutrition and Hydration (2015-2018) outlines

• why commissioners should make nutrition and hydration a priority

• how to tackle the problem

• how to assess the impact of commissioned services

• how commissioners have begun to tackle the problem via commissioning

• further resources to help commissioners address the issue.

Speaking about the launch of the document, BDA Chief Executive, Andy Burman, said: “Far too often, malnutrition is seen as a third-world issue when, in fact, it is extremely common in the UK. In the UK today, malnutrition affects more than three million people. Whereas one in three patients admitted to an acute care setting will be malnourished, or at risk, 35% of people admitted to a care home setting will also be at risk. In addition, there is a significant problem within our communities with many people either suffering from or at real risk of malnutrition.”

“The BDA was extremely keen to be part of the development of this very important guidance document and used in the correct way, this could be a game changer for many of our most vulnerable citizens,” he added.

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, added: “The link between nutrition and hydration and a person’s health is a fundamental part of any stage of life, but all the more so for the sick or vulnerable. Person-focused, quality compassionate care involves looking at what matters to a person as a whole, not only concentrating on their specific medical condition. This document draws together resources and research which will stimulate thinking about and approaches to the central role of nutrition and hydration in caring for people.”

Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, NHS England, concluded: “This is a practical guide, not only for commissioners but also for providers and other key stakeholders including service users. It will encourage local dialogue to improve nutrition and hydration and, as a consequence, realize other important benefits such as reducing risk of falls and making best use of nutritional supplements. It emphasizes a person-centred approach and helpfully gathers together the evidence.”

 The full document can be found here.