10 Mar 2021
The BDA is pleased to have endorsed newly updated guidance from the Royal College of Physicians published today. Entitled Supporting people who have eating and drinking difficulties, it is designed as a guide to practical care and clinical assistance, particularly for patients nearing the end of life. It was created with input from dietitians Anne Holdoway RD and Alison Smith RD, who formed part of a broad multidisciplinary working party responsible for creating the guidance.
Eating and drinking are essential for nutrition and hydration but also play an important social and psychological role. Decisions about nutrition and hydration, and when to start, continue or stop treatment are some of the most challenging to make in clinical practice. The newly updated guidance aims to support healthcare professionals to work together with patients, their families and carers to make decisions around nutrition and hydration that are in the best interests of the patient. It covers the factors affecting our ability to eat and drink, strategies to support oral nutrition and hydration, techniques of clinically assisted nutrition and hydration, and the legal and ethical framework to guide decisions about giving and withholding treatment, emphasising the two key concepts of capacity and best interests.
The guidance is primarily for medical and healthcare professionals, particularly those involved in caring for people who have eating and drinking difficulties, including gastroenterologists, ward nurses, geriatricians, dietitians, speech and language therapists, neurologists, palliative care teams, care home and community nurses.