This week BAPEN (The British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition) published the results of its fourth annual Nutritional Screening Week report. The survey looks specifically at those on admission to hospitals, care homes and mental health units.
The report highlights that while the prevalence of malnutrition has decreased in comparison to previous surveys it is still found to affect 1 in 4 adults on admission to hospitals, more than 1 in 3 adults admitted to care homes and up to 1 in 5 adults on admission to Mental Health Units. Most of those affected were in the high risk category and the problem has been found to be present in patients of all ages.
The figures highlight the need for integrated strategies to be used and consistency in admissions checks in order to detect, prevent and treat malnutrition. BAPEN state that this is a major problem which requires multidisciplinary action.
The survey also demonstrates that there is a higher prevalence of malnutrition in nursing homes compared to residential homes. It has been shown to be more prevalent in women and incidences of malnutrition increase with age.
The report suggests that all patients admitted to a hospital, care home or mental health unit should be weighed and measured to establish whether they are malnourished and this should be repeated at intervals relevant to their care settings. It is recommended that scales in all care settings be calibrated yearly and staff involved in nutritional screening should be trained to be competent to undertake screening and implement care plans. It also suggests that access to nutrition advice and support teams should be available in all care settings.