Malnutrition and dehydration in the worst homes

Malnutrition dehydration worst homes
Andrea Sutcliffe

In the past three years inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have found hundreds of UK older people’s care homes are failing on legally required standards for nutrition and hydration.

CQC inspectors identified cases where residents had gone for almost a week with the equivalent of two cups of water and “minimal food”. Others were put at risk of choking after being served food they could not chew.

Records released by the CQC showed that in the past three years 434 care homes were found to have fallen short of the standards. Last year 136 care homes were sanctioned and required to make urgent changes to ensure resident’s safety.

Just 118 of the 6,240 care homes were given ‘Outstanding’ as a rating

In the most serious cases care home operators were stripped of their registrations.

CQC standards and regulations specify homes must cater to people’s religious and dietary needs and provide “suitable and nutritious food and hydration which is adequate to sustain life and good health”.

Malnutrition in elderly care is particularly problematic because weight loss increases the risk of falling and pressure sores. Dehydration leaves older people prone to urinary tract infections which can be hard to spot and may prove fatal.

A care home in Essex, with 57 residents, failed the CQC inspection after inspectors found that a vulnerable person had only “received a total of 850mls of fluid in five days and only minimal foods”.

Malnutrition dehydration worst homes

Inspectors at a care home in Cheshire with 62 residents, many with complex or challenging behaviour linked to dementia, found patients were at “significant risk of harm”.

A survey last month suggested “abuse” of older people, such as not giving enough time to complete meals, occurs in a large number of care homes. Last year 55 of the 449 older people’s care homes who were given the CQC’s worst rating, ‘Inadequate’, had failings in managing residents’ food and drink and were told to improve or face closure.

A further 2,358 homes were found to require improvement. Just 118 of the 6,240 homes inspected were given the best rating “Outstanding” – the rest were rated ‘Good’.

The CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care Andrea Sutcliffe said “most care homes get it right” and offer appetising meals and support people to eat where needed. “But too often we see people being failed in this critical aspect of care and support.

“This failure poses a serious, potentially fatal, threat to people’s health and wellbeing. That is why our inspectors will always ask about it, share our findings in reports and take action when we see poor practice.”


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