Report shows half of dementia patients suffer malnutrition

A study, conducted by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), found that malnutrition affects over half of dementia patients – 70% of those in hospitals, 30% in care homes and 10% of those living at home.

There are around 800,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, more than half of which suffer with Alzheimer’s. Of the research that was studied for the purpose of the report it was found that half of care residents didn’t eat enough and almost half didn’t drink enough either.

Consequences of patients not eating or drinking enough include:

“frailty, reduced mobility, skin fragility, an increased risk of falls and fractures, exacerbation of health conditions and increased mortality,” the report said.

It’s well-known that the combination of the illness and certain treatments can cause people to lose their appetite. Studies in France and the UK also support this. Three French studies show that around 45% of those suffering with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s lose a significant amount of weight, and US studies show that half the residents in care homes don’t get enough fluid or food.

This shocking trend is expected to be similar in the UK and the Alzheimer’s Society head of policy George McNamara said:

“It is scandalous that hundreds of thousands of people living with dementia in the UK have been let down when it comes to something as basic as food and drink.

It is vital to get the fundamentals of care right, and we need a wake-up call across our health and social care system.

Malnutrition can be avoided by healthcare professionals doing simple things such as monitoring weight and nutrition.”

Most luxurious care home to open in Hampshire

A complex costing £8.5 million, comprising 60 en-suite bedrooms, a hair salon, cinema and beach huts is to open next month.

Linden House in Hampshire looks like a high-end country hotel but is in fact, a care home that’s been developed for dementia patients. The state of the art complex has been developed not only so that people suffering with dementia can live in luxury but also so that they can improve their condition by stimulating their memory.

Colour coordinated doors help residents find their way around the large, three storey building and the enclosed outside space with themed gardens, gazebos and beach huts that reflect the town’s past, stimulating their memories.

Residents really do have everything they need, a shop themed area, a full-time hairdresser, spaces that present landscapes and other recognisable features around Lymington.

Although this really is the house of luxury, it does come at a price. The cost of being a resident at Linden House, in one of the large en-suite rooms, starts at £980.

Care home receives high praise in patient-led survey

Westergate House in Fontwell, Sussex achieved a performance rating of 909 out of 1,000 in the Your Care Rating survey – the biggest survey of the care industry in the country.

In this survey, over 20,000 residents from 1,055 care homes around the UK were asked to provide their feedback on a number of areas of their care including staff and care, choice and having a say, home comforts and quality of life.

This type of survey shouldn’t be used as a nationwide ranking of care homes but it’s a great way for potential residents and families of residents to evaluate care homes and assess exactly where they believe they’ll feel safe and comfortable.

After achieving over 90% in the survey, manager of Westergate House, Paul Middleton said:

“We’re pleased with our results as they show a snapshot of what the residents who have responded think about the services we provide at Westergate House care home.”

He went on to say that the Your Care Survey is just one of the ways that the home obtains feedback from the most important people – its residents – saying:

“We always listen and look to how we can improve on any comments that are raised”.  

Darent Valley Hospital praised by chief inspector of hospitals

Professor Sir Mike Richards, England’s chief inspector of hospitals, has praised Darent Valley Hospital for their services.

In his report for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Professor Richards stated:

“We found that most of the services at Darent Valley Hospital were good. The majority of patients told my team that they were happy with the care and treatment that they had received, and we identified a number of examples of good practice.

“Overall, we found a culture where staff were positive, engaged and very loyal to the organisation, and the staff and management at the hospital were open and transparent about the challenges they faced.”

Although there were certain improvements that the report states needed to be made – mainly to the A&E department – there was plenty of positive feedback.

  • There is a discharge team which ensures patients are discharged in a safe and effective manner.
  • There are more midwives in order to cope with patients admitted to the improved maternity unit.
  • The end of life care that is provided by the hospital is safe, caring and effective.

There have been two visits by the CQC to Darwent Valley Hospital. The first, a scheduled meeting where trained professionals spent two days examining all of the hospital’s processes, and the second, an unannounced visit where staff and members of the public were also met.

University Hospital gains praise after dramatic reduction in waiting times

University Hospital in Coventry has been praised by the likes of health minister Jeremy Hunt and other clinical chiefs as almost all A & E patients are now being seen within the expected four hour waiting threshold.

Just a few months ago the hospital was criticised for the fact that one in three A & E patients had waited for longer than this four hour period and it was revealed that this target had been missed for over half a year which could have put lives at risk. After this information was revealed the Government provided hospital bosses with £4million in order to introduce measures that would ease pressure in the department and allow staff to see patients within the designated time.

This cash injection, along with the launch of a Getting Emergency Care Right campaign in September has led to massive improvements, according to Andy Hardy, the hospital chief executive. These improvements have shown in the figures too. As of the week ending 12th January 2014, the hospital was just below the target of 95% of patients being seen within four hours. However, at one point this year, 97% of its A & E admissions were being seen within the expected waiting time.

Chair of NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Adrian Canale-Parola, expressed her congratulations for the hard work and effort that has been put into meeting this target:

“Progress has been great over the last three months especially, which is fantastic during the typically busy winter period. University Hospital has regularly been one of the top performing hospitals against this vital target this winter.”

No horse meat in British beef products over last quarter

The horse meat scandal caused mayhem in Britain last year when it was revealed that food being sold in Britain that was labelled as beef actually contained horse meat or horse DNA. Since the revelation The Food Standards Agency has released their latest quarterly report of over 6,000 products, none of which were found to be contaminated with horse meat or horse DNA.

Products cannot contain more than 1% horsemeat or horse DNA before they have to be reported and in this last quarterly report none of the 6,069 products that have been tested have been at or above this 1% threshold.

The UK beef industry took the horsemeat scandal extremely seriously as it meant that beef sales across the UK dropped significantly. Of tests carried out since February 15th 2013, the Food Standards Agency have said: “”a total of 38,473 beef results tested for horse meat/DNA have been submitted by industry… Of these, 47 were positive.”

They went on to explain:

“An extensive programme of testing by UK industry and local authorities started in February 2013, at the request of the FSA. These tests were carried out to check that beef products on sale or supplied into the UK food chain were accurately labelled and did not contain horse meat/DNA, following the discovery of horse meat being used as beef in a range of food products sold across Europe.”

Minister awards Cornish hospital prize for food

Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, has tried to help reverse the reduction in the proportion of British food being served in hospitals by prescribing Cornish clotted cream ice cream in order to help improve patients’ health.

He went on to say that spending more of the available £2.1 billion budget for food and drink on British produce would not only help to create much healthier meals, which would be a huge benefit to patients, but it would also boost British farming.

At a dairy conference in Glasgow, he went on to address the award-winning Cornwall Food Programme and suggested that it should be used as a great example to others. The programme is responsible for providing 100,000 food portions to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance and St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle.

Paterson went on to say that the programme has meant that:

“They have increased the amount of fresh, local food they use… They have started serving a local clotted cream ice cream which not only tempts patients to eat but actually saves money, as fewer elderly patients need powdered drink supplements to make sure they get enough calories.”

It’s no secret that the majority of people don’t like hospital food and as a lot of people refuse to eat it when they’re admitted, it means that nutrition is a huge concern – especially with regards to elderly patients. If this programme were spread throughout the NHS it would mean that patients would receive the essential nutrition that they require in the form of fresh, hearty meals rather than supplement drinks.

The Secretary of State has also praised the menu that’s available at Cornwall’s hospital and would like their “buy local” ethos to be extended to all areas of the NHS as well as to schools and prisons.

Merseyside hospital given praise for care

Whiston Hospital, under the St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has been praised for their quality of care by hospital watchdogs and the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission spoke with users of this particular NHS service along with carers, family members and staff of the hospital, as well as reviewing information provided to them by community groups and consequently determined that the hospital delivered, “care and treatment planned and delivered in a way intended to ensure people’s safety and welfare”.

The report, published by the Care Quality Commission said that patients and relatives of patients who had been cared for at the hospital were very happy with the treatment and care they had been given.

However, one issue that has been raised is the speed with which complaints are dealt with across the St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and bosses have been told that they must speed up the rate at which they handle these in future.

In response to this a trust spokesman said:

“The Trust passed all areas of the recent CQC inspection, with only a minor action required to further improve the timeliness in responding to complaints. A significant improvement has now been made and this will continue to be monitored.”

Heston Blumenthal forced to close restaurant after vomiting bug outbreak

Heston Blumenthal has once again been forced to close one of his restaurants after a norovirus outbreak occurred. Blumenthal’s restaurant, Dinner, which has two Michelin stars and is situated in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, has been closed for a week by the chef himself after several people became ill. One American couple were violently ill on their flight home to Denver after eating at the restaurant.

This isn’t the first time one of Blumenthal’s restaurants has been closed due to sickness. In 2009 his restaurant The Fat Duck, in Berkshire, had to be closed after an outbreak of food poisoning – thought to involve raw sewage infecting uncooked oysters. The restaurant was closed for a total of ten days and an official investigation was conducted after the chef and other staff were accused of not moving fast enough to prevent the virus from spreading.

On this occasion, although the closing of the restaurant may not have been necessary, Blumenthal decided to “err on the side of extreme caution” and acted swiftly to close the restaurant, after news of the first illness broke, in order to prevent the bug from spreading further.

Food safety manager, from Westminster City Council, James Armitage said:

“Test results last week have shown that there has been an outbreak of norovirus at the Dinner restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. The operators have now closed the restaurant and we believe this is the responsible thing to do.

“Westminster City Council food safety officers have carried out a thorough inspection of both the restaurant premises and working practices and will continue to work with Public Health England and the restaurant operators until the restaurant is given the all-clear.

“We have already asked the restaurant to improve some of its hygiene procedures – including telling staff to wash their hands more often. All the changes were made immediately.”

The restaurant was closed on 02/02/14 for one week and should reopen, subject to being free from the virus and being given the all-clear by the council.

Norovirus breakout in three Welsh hospitals

Norovirus, or the winter sickness bug as it’s known to many, has caused five wards in two South Wales hospitals to close.

Morriston Hospital has closed two wards and Neath Port Talbot Hospital has closed three after reported outbreaks of norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting. University Hospital Llandough has also suffered three ward closures.

Due to the outbreaks, the health board have advised a “sensible” approach to visiting, advising anyone who has to visit to follow “the advice at the entrances to wards and practice good hand hygiene”, in order to avoid spreading the infection.

Dr Eleri Davies, the director for infection prevention and control said:

“It is very difficult to stop the spread of norovirus once it is in hospital so we are asking the public to help support us by restricting visiting to what is absolutely necessary.”

The health board have expressed the importance of avoiding the hospitals unless absolutely necessary, which means assessing the seriousness of any injury or illness and selecting the correct service rather than merely descending on emergency departments. The emergency departments should only be used when absolutely necessary. “By doing this you will receive appropriate care as quickly as possible and free up our emergency doctors to see those patients who need them most.”