Nutrition and hydration are essential for health and quality of life.
For older people, adequate food and drink can help them recover from illness and surgery, remain independent, reduce their length of stay in hospital and help avoid readmission to hospital.
Malnutrition is common in older people. To identify people over 65 at risk of malnutrition, they should be screened within 24 hours of admission and at regular intervals throughout their hospital stay.
This topic gives an overview of nutrition and hydration and recommends actions that we and our organisations can take, in addition to health service policy and procedures, to provide quality nutrition and hydration care to our older patients.
Nutrition and hydration impacts on health
Nutrition and hydration are the intake of food and fluid to meet dietary and biological needs. Good nutrition is fundamental to wellbeing.
Nutrition and hydration and ageing
As we age, many physiological factors can affect our ability to maintain optimal nutrition and hydration.
Identifying nutrition and hydration issues
When nutrition and hydration issues are identified early, we can tailor treatment to respond to each patient’s biological and medical needs.
Responding to nutrition and hydration issues
There are many things we can do to improve a patient’s food and fluid intake and help prevent functional decline. Nutrition is a priority for everyone.
Nutrition and hydration and discharge planning
Nutrition and hydration are always important and treatment is often ongoing. We can help patients make a smooth transition from the hospital to their home or care facility.
Further information - nutrition and hydration
Educational and information resources available on nutrition and hydration older people in hospital.
All public and private hospitals are required to be accredited to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s (ACSQHC) National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The primary aims of the standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. Assessment to the second edition of the NSQHS Standards commenced in January 2019. The second edition comprises eight standards that provide a nationally consistent statement about the level of care consumers can expect from health services.
The Comprehensive Care Standard (Standard 5) aims to ensure that patients receive comprehensive health care that meets their individual needs, and considers the impact of their health issues on their life and wellbeing. It also aims to ensure that risks of harm for patients during health care are prevented and managed through targeted strategies. These include integrating patient care processes to identify patient needs and identifying actions related to falls, pressure injuries, nutrition, mental health, cognitive impairment and end-of-life care.
Information is presented in the Older People in Hospital learning topics that complements Standard 5 and other NSQHS Standards including the; Partnering with Consumers Standard (Standard 2), Medication Safety Standard (Standard 4), Communicating for Safety Standard (Standard 6) and Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration (Standard 8).
Reviewed 04 October 2015