THE majority of Scotland’s care homes for older people are ensuring residents eat and drink properly – but the Care Commission has warned that it remains concerned at the number of complaints it receives about poor nutrition.
A new Care Commission report details the quality of nutritional care in Scotland’s care homes based on an analysis of inspections from 303 care homes, complaint investigations and enforcement action.
The Eating Well in Care Homes for Older People report found:
* More than half of the homes met the Scottish Government’s National Care Standards for eating, drinking and nutrition
* Most homes (85 per cent) have policies and procedures for eating well
* Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) screen for under-nutrition
* 91 complaints were made – with 76 being upheld or partially upheld
* 101 requirements and 38 recommendations were made as a result of these complaints.
Says a spokesperson: ‘The largest issue for complaints were about people’s dietary needs not being met, in particular not giving people enough to drink Improvement notices were served on ten care homes to enforce improvements in the quality of nutrition and hydration to older people.
“The Care Commission is now calling for everyone involved with older people – including Scottish Government, NHS Boards, local authorities and care homes – to use the findings to help improve standards of nutritional care.”
The recommendations include:
* Raising awareness of the National Care Standards for eating well
* Increasing staff training in the areas of eating, drinking and nutrition
* Ensuring staff numbers are sufficient to encourage and help residents to eat well and drink regularly
* Ensuring menus are properly planned for older people who have diabetes, unplanned weight loss or difficulty swallowing and chewing.
Susan Brimelow, director of Healthcare Regulation, is also calling for the Scottish Government to support an integrated programme across all agencies including the NHS and care homes to improve nutritional care.
She points to the outstanding success of the nutrition champions pilot scheme – which has seen 50 care staff learn more about diet and nutrition for older people so that they could teach others and improve conditions – as an excellent example of how a joined-up approach to address the issue can bring real benefits.
Susan Brimelow said: “Our findings show there is much to praise in the quality of nutritional care in Scotland’s care homes for older people.
“People in care homes are among the most vulnerable in our community. They depend on the care home and its staff to provide balanced meals and ready access to as much water and other liquids as they need.
“So it’s important that care services aren’t just aware of what they ought to be doing – of the policies and procedures they should have in place. Everyone who cares for people in a care home must know what the National Care Standards for Eating Well mean to them and to each individual in their care.
“This report aims to make people aware of the standards of good practice we expect all care homes to follow. There is plenty of room to improve. We are concerned about the high numbers of complaints we receive and the enforcement action we have had to take to ensure the safety and welfare of people living in care homes.
“We’re confident that the recommendations we’re making as a result of this report’s findings will contribute towards improving standards of nutritional care in care homes for older people across Scotland. In particular, we want to actively encourage the Scottish Government to fund and support the nutrition champions programme across all Scottish care homes.”
Ranald Mair, chief executive of Scottish Care, the umbrella organisation for Scotland’s care home sector, said: “We welcome the Care Commission’s commitment to work with Scottish Care to encourage widespread implementation of the National Care Standards for eating well.”
Copies of the report Eating Well in Care Homes for Older People are available from www.carecommission.com or on request to the press office.Notes to Editor:* The Care Commission looked in detail at five areas of food and nutrition in a sample of 303 care homes for older people during inspections in 2006 and 2007
* The National Care Standards (NCS) set out the standards of care that people can expect from any care service they use. The NCS for Eating Well are available on www.carecommission.com.
* The Care Commission, established in 2002, regulates around 14,500 care services that provides care to some 320,000 people. It is committed to regulating for improvement and developing a care sector that adheres to and exceeds the National Care Standards.
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