11 Mar 2019 Guest blog: The innovative Paperweight Armband is helping save lives in Greater Manchester
This Nutrition and Hydration Awareness Week, we hear from Emma Connolly, Programme Director for the Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme, working for Age UK Salford to discuss the 2-year programme that aims to improve the lives of thousands of older people across Greater Manchester.
This week, The Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration Project are celebrating food and drink and the important role they play for our health, energy levels and quality of life.
More than 50 local groups in the city region have signed up to join the Global Tea Party raising awareness of the issues and pledging their commitment to reduce preventable malnutrition and dehydration in older people. There has been a surge of interest and increased awareness of eating and drinking well in later life following the introduction of the Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme in 2018. This programme uses the innovative and simple Paperweight Armband to allow people to see in an instant if they or someone they are working with or caring for may be dangerously underweight. Over 60,000 Greater Manchester citizens suffer from malnutrition and dehydration.
Malnutrition (meaning poor or bad nutrition) can refer to a range of issues, but for many older people it is characterised by low body weight or weight loss.
Dehydration in older adults is associated with falls, hospitalisation and higher health and care costs.
As we get older, it can be harder to maintain a healthy weight. The reasons why this happens can be hard to spot. Loneliness, the loss of a life partner who you used to eat with or who cooked for you can lead to losing interest in food and drink. It might seem easier to just have a biscuit instead of cooking a hot meal and to restrict drink intake to reduce the number of toilet trips, which can easily become habits.
This can greatly affect a person’s wellbeing and lead to long-term health problems for otherwise independent older people.
Older people who are undernourished are more likely to visit their GP, more likely to be admitted to hospital and thereafter take longer to recover from illness or injury than well-nourished people.
The good news is that in many cases this is preventable and treatable and this is where the innovative Paperweight Armband tool can play a life-saving role.
Care 4 U Rochdale
Care 4 U in Rochdale was one of the first organisations in Greater Manchester to take advantage of the Nutrition and Hydration training. Since this time their carers have assessed 81 people and found 8 to be at risk of malnutrition. You can read more about how they have supported these people to gain weight by following this link: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/salford/about-us/improving-nutrition-and-hydration/case-studies/
Over the course of the 2-year pilot programme the Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme aims to reach 40,000 older people.
Over the next 12 months we will continue to recruit ‘Nutrition and Hydration Champions’ to use the Paperweight Armband and to ask questions about weight loss during daily conversations with older people.
We will be raising awareness of the issues in Nutrition and Hydration Awareness week from 11th-17th March 2019 and later in the year at Malnutrition Awareness Week in October 2019.
Follow us on Twitter @GMNandH to get updates and find out how you can support and sign up for training and events.