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Charity calls for nutritional care for all

Access to appropriate nutritional care should be available to all, not just older people, a UK specialist charity says.

The British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) was responding to a joint action put forward by the UK Department of Health and Nutrition Summit stakeholders that focuses on the older population.

BAPEN is a UK multidisciplinary charity that aims to raise awareness of malnutrition and improve policy and practice in nutritional care in community, care and hospital settings

“Nutritional care has reached a tipping point,” said BAPEN chairperson Professor Marinos Elia, of the Institute of Human Nutrition, Southampton.

“Nutritional care in all its forms – from help with eating, special diets or complex artificial tube feeding – is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’. Nutritional care is a ‘must-have’ to be embedded in all health and social care policy and practice in all community, housing, care and hospital settings – for all age groups.”

Professor Elia went on: “The Improving Nutritional Care action plan represents a landmark step in ensuring this sea-change happens.

“Quite rightly, the plan focuses on the older population, the biggest percentage of hospital inpatients and residents in care,” continued Professor Elia. “However, all patients in hospital, and residents in care or special housing who are dependent on health and care professionals – no matter their age or circumstance – must also receive the appropriate nutritional care.

“Our aim must be to improve two things: the nutritional care experience of every single patient in hospital and resident in care or specialist housing, and the delivery of appropriate nutritional care to improve individual outcomes.”

Vera Todorovic, chair of BAPEN’s communications committee and a consultant dietitian at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “This is the first time in my experience that we have had a steer at Government level on nutritional care across the board – and this is to be warmly welcomed.”