Good Nutrition: the hidden issue

Nutrition is an important but often hidden issue for carers and their families. We hear from Lynne Stevenson BSc from Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition on how we can help provide better support for carers around nutritional problems and eating difficulties.

Good nutrition is vital for all of us, but particularly as we age and if we are living with long term conditions.

It’s also crucial for carers, who need to know about good nutrition for the person they are caring for as well as to look after their own health and wellbeing. In a recent survey Carers UK found that 60% of carers worry about the nutritional intake of the person they care for. That is why Carers UK/Carers Scotland are working in partnership with Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition to improve understanding about nutrition and caring.   This partnership provides carers with the information and resources on nutritional care for themselves and the person they care for.caring & nutrition photo

The following titles have been produced through the partnership to help provide better support for carers around nutritional problems and eating difficulties.

  • Eating well with COPD
  • Eating well with stroke
  • Eating well with dementia
  • Eating well with cancer
  • The importance of eating well for carers
  • The role of good nutrition when caring for someone
  • Understanding the nutrition gap and how it affects the person you care for
  • Speaking to your GP when you are concerned about the nutritional intake of the person you care for

You can find out more information by visiting the Carers UK website on or the Nutricia website. There is also the opportunity to learn more through an e-learning module.  Like Age Scotland, Carers Scotland and a whole host of organisations working on behalf of older people and carers do so much to highlight the importance of nutrition, and that is why we have been pleased to work to develop these publications to help ensure people have the information they need for good nutrition and healthy living.

download                      carers

Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper – The spectre of malnutrition

As a Council salami sliced its meals on wheels service, the news focus was once more on malnutrition in later life.  Doug Anthoney responds.

Receiving a meal

This week we responded to Angus Council’s move to halve the number of hot meals it delivers through its meals-on-wheels service.  The Council currently delivers about 3,500 hot meals each week, with recipients given the choice of a hot meal delivered to their home at lunchtime, in the evening, or both.  In a move that is expected to save £400,000 a year it plans to cut the service to delivery of one meal during the day, which will come with a sandwich for the resident to have for dinner.

We expressed our fear that service cuts such as this increase the likelihood of malnutrition among vulnerable older people, which in turn is associated with increased likelihood of illness and longer recovery times.  This is not only a problem for individuals but also health and social care services; research by the Patients Association in 2011 suggested that the cost of malnutrition in Scotland could be as much as £1 billion.  With health and social care service integration in the pipeline, ‘cost shunting’ of this kind – where savings in social care resurface later as larger costs to health budgets – surely can’t continue unchallenged.

Looking at meals services for older people generally in Scotland, we know there’s a lot of variation in the quality.  In some areas meals on wheels are provided using the same menus that are used for school meals, which fails to consider how nutritional needs differ across generations – so older people may not be able to eat the food provided, or fully benefit from its nutritional value.  We would like to see all Local Authorities and NHS Health Boards working together to ensure appropriate food is provided for older people in their homes where it’s needed, taking into account their views and preferences such as vegetarianism.