Nutrition and hydration

Welcome to this online resource about nutrition and hydration.

Nutrition and hydration are essential to health and well being. When well managed they provide a vital contribution for people recovering from illness and for those at risk of malnutrition. When managed poorly they pose a significant threat to patient safety.

This site brings together what we currently know about the quality of care in these areas and the strategies required to improve, based on the experience of four country and local initiatives.

The RCN has developed online learning around nutritional care and worked with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to develop robust methods of assessing the quality of nutritional care (CQC 2010; RCN 2010a).

The Royal College of Nursing has campaigned to raise standards in this area. You can read a summary of the Nutrition Now campaign.

We have drawn on the experience of the campaign and we have used the RCN's Principles of Nursing Practice to organise the way the site is set out (RCN 2010b).

For a full overview of the contents of this resource on nutrition and hydration see how to use this resource.

Dignity and nutrition for older people

The Care Quality Commission's programme of themed inspections in 2012 looked at dignity and nutrition issues for older people. One inspection looked at the experiences of older people in care homes and the other was a further programme of inspections in 50 NHS trusts, this time including both mental health and acute trusts. "Most of the hospitals we inspected were caring for people with dignity, treating them with respect, and supporting them to make sure their nutritional needs were met. Compared with our previous dignity and nutrition programme, more hospitals were meeting people’s nutritional needs but fewer hospitals were meeting the standard on dignity and respect."
See the full reports: Dignity and nutrition for older people.

RCN supports Nutrition and Hydration Week 16 to 22 March 2015 – a global challenge

The RCN is supporting this UK collaboration which aims to raise awareness of the value of food and drink in the health and social care sector, to provide guidance for decision makers, service providers – profit and non-profit organisations, carers, families and those in receipt of the services. For more information see: Nutrition and Hydration Week 2015

A special part-themed section looks at Nutrition and Hydration Week 2015 and aspects of nutrition and hydration, see: Special eBulletin: nutrition and hydration.

The RCN’s Quality and Safety eBulletin will highlight a snapshot of nutrition and hydration resources on 16 March 2015 in a part-themed issue. You can sign up to receive the bulletin, see: Quality and Safety eBulletin registration form.


These resources were last accessed on 20 February 2015. Some of them are in PDF format - see how to access PDF files.
CQC and RCN (2010) Observation prompts and guidance for monitoring compliance: Guidance for CQC inspectors. Outcome 5: Meeting nutritional needs (PDF 268KB). London: CQC.
RCN (2010a) CPD online learning: Supporting people’s nutritional needs – getting started. RCN website.

RCN (2010b) Principles of Nursing Practice. RCN website. 

If you have any comments or enquiries regarding this resource please contact us at: qualityandsafety@rcn.org.uk.