Headlines: October 15th, 2009

Two charities working with older people have launched training courses for care staff to make them more aware of the danger of malnutrition, particularly among people with dementia. Age Concern and Help the Aged say the series of one-day courses have been designed to tackle what is a growing problem.

The charities say malnutrition is under-recognised and under-treated and about 1.3 million people over 65 are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The problem affects almost 1 in 3 adults admitted to care homes and it is estimated that a quarter of the cost of caring for people with dementia may be attributable to the time that carers spend helping with eating and drinking.

The care staff courses, which are being supported by an educational grant from health care company Abbott Nutrition, will build on training, which the organisations have delivered for some time. They have been designed to meet the need for a tailored education programme for older people being looked after in community care and nursing homes.

Andrew Harrop, Head of Public Policy at Age Concern and Help the Aged, said: “Although it seems like a straightforward thing, ensuring people have food and drink, in addition to assessing individual’s nutritional needs, is an integral part of care.” Janet Stelling, Project Manager from Abbott Nutrition, said the programme would run until March next year and would train about 320 operational and managerial staff in care homes and day centres.