Wigan project to help care home residents wins award
An initiative to support residents who are underweight or malnourished when admitted to Wigan care homes has scooped a top award.
The Shake Up Project, run by NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), was named the winner of the Quality Improvement Project of the Year 2021 by a specialist nutrition group from the British Dietetic Association.
Around 35 per cent of people admitted to care homes are malnourished, meaning nutritional assessment and management form an essential aspect of their care.
When untreated, complications from malnutrition can arise such as pressure ulcers, poor wound healing, infections, hospital admissions and re-admissions, and even death.
The project saw a team of professionals develop nutritional supplement drinks made from a blend of natural ingredients.
The use of real foods made a significant impact on the taste and nutritional benefits, when compared with widely used, prescribed products.
The project dietitian worked with care homes to train staff, taking into consideration individuals’ needs and choice.
To date the results look good, with residents using the new shakes gaining an average of 7.6 per cent in weight.
Nicola Johnstone, a support manager in Atherton, said: “Our residents prefer the taste of these shakes and the flavours are more appealing rather than tasting artificial.”
She added: “I see real benefits, it’s a more natural, better tasting product which can be incorporated into the daily diet of residents to support weight gain. In addition seasonal recipes such as Christmas flavours can be used, adding some diversity to the range.”
Dr Tim Dalton, a GP and chairman of the CCG, said: “This is an excellent example of how Wigan borough professionals are listening to our local people and care homes and finding relatively simple, but innovative ways to improve care for the benefit of patients.
“Shake Up is a holistic method of helping someone get back to health; it is not just about treating, it is about making someone feel that they want to be eating something which tastes nice and is making them feel better.
“It is testament to the project team working on this that it has received such excellent national praise and the hope for the long-term is to ensure that other care homes in Wigan borough will use this approach and the work could also be rolled out across other areas.
“This will ensure that a group of vulnerable people can get healthier quicker and with the best care possible. It has been a real team effort with support from a range of NHS professionals.”
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