24th May 2012
50,000 Older People in Wales Starving in their own Homes Every Day
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has tabled a hard-hitting motion at this year’s Wales Trades Union Congress (Wales TUC) to highlight levels of malnutrition in older people living in their own homes in Wales and in the wider UK, which was support unanimously.
This year’s Wales TUC took place in Llandudno 22-24 May 2012. The BDA motion (number 41) was heard on Thursday 24th May.
Highlighting the “Welsh national disgrace” at the Wales TUC forms part of the BDA’s current campaign called Mind the Hunger Gap (www.mindthehungergap.com), specifically created to throw light on this national problem.
Part of the campaign involves highlighting the “disgrace” that involves around 1,000,000 (one million) older people in the UK (50,000 in Wales) suffering from malnutrition on a daily basis. This figure does not include those older people in a hospital or care setting, it is those older people living in our community or, as they have become, the ‘invisible’ population.
Malnutrition does not discriminate and impacts on people regardless of age, gender or race.
While The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the greatest single threat to the world’s public health, it is still widely believed that malnutrition is restricted to the third world population. Quite simply, it is not.
For the first time, the BDA launched Mind the Hunger Gap as an online-based campaign and individuals will be directed to the campaign website (www.mindthehungergap.com) to download various materials and campaign tools to highlight the issue locally, while the BDA will raise the issue on a national level.
Caroline Bovey, Wales representative on the BDA Trade Union Board and ‘mover’ of the motion, said:
“Malnutrition is not a problem facing third world countries. In the UK, in Wales, malnutrition is very much alive and well and affecting some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Today in the UK, around one million older people living in their own homes in the community are suffering from malnutrition. That figure runs at about 50,000 in Wales. This figure does not even include those living in a care home or hospital, it is those older people living behind their own front doors.
“I am proud to raise this issue in Wales at the Wales TUC and and extremely pleased that those attending supported our motion to highlight this Welsh national disgrace.”
Information about STUC motion and speech in Notes to the Editor below.
|For more information / interview requests, please contact Steven Jenkins the BDA Press Office on: 0800 048 1714|
Notes to the Editor:
- Visit the BDA website at www.bda.uk.com
- The British Dietetic Association, founded in 1936, is the professional association for registered dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with approximately 7,000 members.
- Registered dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
- Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, Non Government Organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.
The Wales TUC motion reads:
“Conference is shocked to learn that an estimated one million older people in the UK eat less than one meal a day.
“This scandalous “hunger gap” contributes to the massive problem of malnutrition that impacts on people regardless of age, gender or race, costing the NHS over £13 billion-twice the burden of obesity.
“The British Dietetic Association’s “Mind the Hunger Gap” campaign highlights this major public health issue and will focus particularly on the plight of older people living in our communities.
“Poverty, social isolation and fragmented services have left many older people, a high proportion of whom are women, excluded and invisible.
“Dietitians, the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat nutrition problems, have the expertise to lead the nutrition pathway across the health and social care system.
“The British Dietetic Association calls upon all Trade Unions, Welsh Local authorities, the Voluntary sector, Care providers and the Welsh Government to sign up to the Mind the Hunger campaign and work with us to eliminate this unrecognised problem.”
Caroline Bovey’s speech is as follows:
Thursday 24th May 2012
Marney Quinn, for the British Dietetic Association trade Union presenting motion 85 ‘Mind the Hunger Gap’
“The World Health Organisation states that malnutrition is the greatest single treat to global public health and while it is convenient for us to believe that malnutrition is restricted to third-world populations, this is simple not the case.
“In the United Kingdom today, more than 3 million people are at risk of malnutrition and the vast majority, over 90%, are living, with this condition, often unrecognised within our communities.
“Malnutrition impacts on peoples’ lives regardless of age, of gender or of race. Malnutrition is most common in older people and it is estimated that one million older people in the UK eat less than one decent meal a day.
“This scandal of hidden malnutrition is a major public health issue that urgently needs attention, therefore, the British Dietetic Association’s ‘Mind the Hunger Gap ‘campaign aims to highlight and focus particularly on the plight of older people at risk of malnutrition living in the community.
“Having enough to eat and drink is one of the most fundamental of human needs, indeed is a Human Right. But many vulnerable older people do not have these basic needs met, it is poverty, it is social isolation and it is fragmented services that have left many older people excluded, invisible and hungry.
“Our Welsh population is an ageing population. People aged over 50 in Wales account for 37% of the population, whilst those over 60 account for 24%. His is huge leap for 1961 when only 18% were over 60.
“Malnutrition causes a wide range of psychological and physical problems including low mood and self neglect; people have difficulty keeping warm, they suffer reduced muscle strength and weakened immune responses leading, often, to more infections and illness, coupled with a longer recover time and slower wound healing.
“The malnourished access healthcare frequently. They visit their GP more often. They have significantly higher rates of hospital admissions – these are of longer duration. Treatments work less effectively and healing is delayed. The malnourished are more likely to be re-admitted to hospital when they are discharged.
“Malnutrition costs the NHS over thirteen billion pounds annually similar to some of the figures suggested for the cost of Obesity. I emphasise, this is in Healthcare costs- we are not talking about the inevitable social care costs or indeed, the physical and emotional costs to the individual and to their families and friends.
“And yet the massive financial burden caused by malnutrition can we managed by identifying and providing good nutrition for those in need.
Now is the time to act, our population is aging our hospital care is increasing moving to a community setting.
“The recent Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into the home care system in England demonstrated many positive aspects of home care but also revealed failures including lack of support with eating and drinking.
“Of great concern, the report also highlighted that, with social care budgets now devolved for local implementation, one – in – three have already cut back on home care services and a further one – in – five were likewise planning to cut services within a year. There is now an important opportunity to protect and enhance these vital services.
“Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that asses, diagnose and treat nutrition problems and we have the expertise to lead the nutrition pathway across the health and social care system.
“We want to engage with key policy-makers and work in partnership with other unions, whose members care deeply about the support and care they deliver, to plan effective solutions that include nutritional assessment and plan achievable treatment plans for older people at risk of malnutrition.
“We ask congress to call on politicians to protect at least one meal per day by ring-fencing funding to ensure that adequate meal provision continues to lie at the heart of community care.
“Let’s act NOW to eradicate malnutrition - show your support by signing up as a supporter of ‘Mind the Hunger Gap’ Conference, I move!”
Mind the Hunger Gap Facts & Figures
More than 3 million people in the UK are at risk of malnutrition with the vast majority, about 93%, living in the community setting, 5% in residential care and 2% in hospital
One million older people in the United Kingdom eat less than one meal a day.
Greater use of healthcare and costs associated with malnutrition mean:
- 65% more GP visits;
- 82% more hospital admissions;
- 30% longer hospital stay.
The health and social care costs in the United Kingdom directly associated with malnutrition comes to more than £13 billion per annum (based on 2007 prices).
Problems associated with malnutrition include:
- Poorer immune responses, meaning the likelihood of infections and ill health is greatly increased.
- Reduced muscle strength.
- Weaker respiratory (breathing) muscles, which result in breathing problems and frequent chest infections.
- More difficulty keeping warm.
- Slower wound healing and longer time needed to recover from Illness.
- Low mood, little interest in everyday activities and self neglect.
- Increased amount of admissions and readmissions to hospital, and longer time spent on each admission.
In the fight against malnutrition, dietitians should:
- Provide specialised dietary advice.
- Be involved in the early stages once a patient has been screened.
- Be an integral member of the secondary and primary care teams.
- Help devise and implement effective nutrition policy locally.
- Take a lead in the coordinating a nutrition steering committee/group in the hospital and community environment to ensure provision of appropriate nutritional management, care pathways and monitoring happens.
- Offer appropriate nutrition advice on an individual/group level.
- Train and support other healthcare professionals on how to identify risk of malnutrition.
- Assess an individual’s nutritional/dietary requirements.
- Contribute to delivering cost effective services.