Keeping to a healthy weight in later life

HERO-fruit and veg buyers

This blog was contributed by Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of the Malnutrition Task Force and Age UK 

This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week, a brilliant campaign which raises awareness and celebrates food and drink as a way of maintaining health and wellbeing.

I’m certain that no-one doubts the importance of food. It gives us the nutrients we need for energy and to stay healthy; it helps us to stay sharp mentally; it can boost our wellbeing and generally keep us happy.

But let’s not just think in practical terms – the aroma of your favourite food as it drifts into the senses, and the sensations we feel as it hits our taste buds are some of the great pleasures in life. Most importantly, food is something we should continue to look forward to.

Food is so vital to every one of us and we should all strive to eat well and sufficiently throughout our lives.

However, that isn’t always the case.

Although many of us believe that malnutrition, or undernutrition, has been confined to the history books, the reality is different. In the UK, 1 in 10 older people – around 1 million altogether – are undernourished or at risk of undernourishment.

Continue reading “Keeping to a healthy weight in later life”

Reflecting on food standards in hospitals


In this blog post, Dianne Jeffrey, Chairman of Age UK and Chair of the Hospital Food Standards Panel, reflects on hospital food. 

Going into hospital can be very worrying.

You may be in pain and nervous about what’s going to happen next, feel disorientated by being in a busy environment, or find it distressing being away from loved ones.

All this can be compounded by having no control over food, or by being served food that’s unappetising and unappealing.

However, getting hospital food and drink right is critical. After all, good nutrition and hydration are a vital part of the healing and recovery process for all patients.
Continue reading “Reflecting on food standards in hospitals”

How carers can take action on weight loss in later life

Jenny And James - Age Uk Case Study by Sam Mellish

This blog was contributed by the Malnutrition Task Force for Carers Week. 

Continue reading “How carers can take action on weight loss in later life”

New rules to serve up better food for NHS patients and staff

Spaghetti bolognaiseIn this blog post, Dianne Jeffrey,  Chairman of Age UK and Chair of the Hospital Food Standards Panel, discusses the new mandatory food standards for the NHS.

Continue reading “New rules to serve up better food for NHS patients and staff”

Is it not normal to lose weight when you get older?

This blog was contributed by Margit Physant, Project Manager for the Malnutrition Task Force.

The Duchess of Windsor is reported to have said that you can never be too rich or too thin. I don’t know about the first but you can be too thin.

440x210_fruit-shoppingMalnutrition refers to low body weight and/or recent weight loss and it is still with us. It is far more common than most people think. It affects all ages, but older people are particularly at risk and more than a million people over the age of 65 are affected.

It is common but it is not a normal part of ageing and it has serious health consequences.  Malnourished people are more prone to infection and take longer to recover if they get ill. It causes misery to older people and their families and is costly to the health service. Continue reading “Is it not normal to lose weight when you get older?”

Guest blog – Tackling the devastating consequences of malnutrition in older people

This blog was contributed by the Malnutrition Task Force

P3 - Malnutrition Taskforce Logo

Today malnutrition affects more than one million older people in the UK and the associated costs are estimated to be £13bn every year. The effects are profound and malnutrition increases the risk of falls, infections and delays recovery from illness and surgery.

In June 2012, an independent Malnutrition Task Force was  established to tackle malnutrition in older people in hospitals, care homes and their own home. The Malnutrition Task Force includes representation from charities, professionals, NHS, commissioners and providers and is chaired by Age UK Chairman Dianne Jeffrey.

Many cases of malnutrition can be prevented and there are many examples of good practice across the UK. Focus on Undernutrition in County Durham is a community based project that raises awareness and helps to prevent, identify and manage people at risk of malnutrition in their own home, care homes and community hospitals. The training programme for all health and social care staff introduces simple tools for accurate assessment of malnutrition.

Continue reading “Guest blog – Tackling the devastating consequences of malnutrition in older people”

Still Hungry to be Heard – CQC Dignity and Nutrition Report

Today, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published the Dignity and nutrition for older people report, summarising spot check inspections of 100 acute hospitals in England. The inspectors looked at the essential standards of dignity and nutrition on wards caring for older people. They found, that for nutrition, action needed to be taken in 49 of the 100 hospitals.

Age UK has worked with the CQC to support this inspection process – and we are shocked by the outcome. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the CQC report is that it shows that this situation is not inevitable. Some hospitals are clearly getting things right. But what about the others?

We have previously identified ‘seven steps’ of good practice which hospital staff need to follow, and we know that in some places these are making a real difference. Continue reading “Still Hungry to be Heard – CQC Dignity and Nutrition Report”