Staff at Lymington mark Swallowing Awareness Day and Nutrition and Hydration week.
Staff from Lymington New Forest Hospital have been taking part in the ‘thickener challenge’; thickening their drinks in solidarity with their patients who do this because of a difficulty in swallowing.
As part of nutrition and hydration awareness week and swallowing awareness day on 13 March, teams across the Hospital have been highlighting the importance of nutrition and hydration through educational stands and ward visits.
Around one in 10 acutely hospitalised older people have difficulty in swallowing, often known as Dysphagia. Due to the difficulty, and sometimes pain, of swallowing this puts people at high risk of malnutrition, dehydration and choking.
To raise awareness of this, a number of staff including nurses, speech and language therapists, dietetics and social services have been talking with patients, relatives and hospital visitors about the importance of good hydration and nutrition. They also took part in the Thickener Challenge’, drinking only thickened drinks between 9am and 4pm. Thickening drinks can make it easier to swallow, helping people who might otherwise struggle, get the hydration they need.
Claire Irvine, a Clinical Specialist Speech and Language Therapist working at Lymington New Forest Hospital said: “Thickening drinks can really help people who are struggling to swallow and allows them to get the hydration they need. This is especially important during recovery, or summer months when staying hydrated is key. Taking part in the challenge helped us better understand what our patients have to go through and why they might make certain choices about what they drink or eat. Having that understanding will really improve how we work with someone and enable us to give the best care and advice to our patients.”
Around 76% of stroke survivors will have some form of Dysphagia and it is estimated that between 50 – 75% of people in care homes also suffer from the condition. Not only can this have a serious impact on a person’s hydration and nutrition intake, but also his or her own general wellbeing as well.
The Speech and Language Therapy and Dietetics Teams also held a stall in the main atrium of the hospital to mark Swallowing Awareness Day on 13 March. They spoke to visitors, patients and their families about the importance of good hydration and nutrition. This included giving out free bottles of water, which were provided by the local Co-op.