Dementia and Older People's Mental Health - Guidance for Primary Care Networks and Care Homes

01 Mar 2021

The Older People’s Specialist Group’s (OPSG) blog in February 2021 about the Enhanced Health in Care Homes framework (EHCH) highlighted the role of dietitians as an integral multi-disciplinary team (MDT) member that can be co-opted into weekly Care Home MDT rounds. We also discussed a dieitian's role as an educator within these services. 

This new guidance document from the South East Clinical Delivery Networks “Dementia and Older People’s Mental Health. Guidance for Primary Care Networks and Care Homes”, which had contribution from OPSG, builds on that in relation to Dementia. EHCH recognises the importance of delivering high quality mental health and dementia care to people living in care homes. Almost 70% of people living in care homes are affected by dementia and up to 40% experience depression, both of which can impact on people’s nutrition and hydration needs.  

This guidance document recognises issues with nutrition and unplanned weight loss can be one of the first signs of dementia. It also recognises the importance of personalised nutrition and hydration care planning including the importance of a nutrient dense diet in those at risk of malnutrition. There are suggestions on techniques that may be helpful to improve food and drink intake in people displaying behaviours that challenge or for those that walk with purpose. It also highlights the importance of structured medication rounds to ensure medications are meeting people’s needs as well as reducing the burden of polypharmacy. This includes nutritional product prescribing such as oral nutritional supplements and an area where dietitians can support and provide value.