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HCA highlights importance of 365-day nutrition ahead of N&H week

The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) is highlighting the importance of good nutrition every day of the year, ahead of this year’s Nutrition and Hydration Week (13-19 March).

The initiative aims to raise awareness of nutrition and hydration as an important part of quality care for patients and residents in a health or social care setting.

It was devised by the HCA, the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) and Patient Safety First, and is now a global movement, with several countries taking part in activities in the annual event every March.

Phil Shelley, chair of the HCA, says: “Unfortunately, despite a greater awareness of nutrition and hydration, malnutrition continues to affect millions of people in the UK each year. As caterers, we understand the importance good nutrition and hydration can play in supporting a patient’s recovery and the benefits of a healthy, balanced and nutritious meal.

“Nutrition and Hydration Week is a great way of getting the message out there but it’s important for us to keep it at the forefront of our minds all year long to provide the best possible care to patients.”

Shelley adds: “In many cases malnutrition is preventable, which is why as an association we continue to campaign to improve patient screening during hospital admission to ensure early identification of those at risk of malnutrition. We are also arguing for bespoke patient nutrition plans.

“Good nutrition is at the heart of every HCA member, and we will continue to do our best to provide it to patients every day, week and month of the year, every year.”

Nutrition and Hydration Week comprises different themes throughout the week, one of the most popular is the mid-week afternoon tea, which last year saw a flurry of record attempts for serving cream teas around the world.

The aim of the week is to shine a light on the risks of malnutrition and what can be done to help those in care environments stay healthy. It encourages the sharing of good practice and the need to take steps to improve matters.

Staff benefit by learning the preventative role they can play to reduce malnutrition-related illnesses, which often require complex treatment and have prolonged recovery periods.

In 2016, more than 95% of NHS Trusts took part in the week’s activities along with more than 2,000 care home settings in the UK. The event also has international status, as healthcare facilities from around 57 other countries organised their own events.