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Nutrition and hydration

Nutrition and Hydration

As a member of the nursing team, it is important that you manage nutrition and hydration well. Good management of nutrition and hydration aids patient recovery and safeguards those at risk of malnutrition.

This resource covers nutrition and hydration in relation to the Principles of Nursing Practice and in accordance with the NMC code. It includes good practice examples and resources about nutrition and hydration, in different settings.


Nutrition essentials

Malnutrition is a common health problem. There are an estimated 3 million malnourished people in the UK at any time, with many more at risk of becoming malnourished. 
Nutrition and hydration essentials

Hydration essentials

Many people do not drink enough and this particularly true of people who are unwell. Ask yourself: can the person see, reach for, lift and hold a drink? If the answer to this is no, then they need your help to stay hydrated.

Barriers to maintaining good nutrition and hydration

  • poor understanding, from the person, their family and the staff caring for them
  • unsuitable meal times
  • not being able to address personal and cultural preferences
  • poor motivation
  • poor staffing
  • medication
  • ill health
  • poor oral hygiene and dentition
  • boring or inappropriate food
  • lack of appropriate aids to support people to eat
  • social isolation
  • nil by mouth
  • sensory loss
  • delirium

Enablers to maintaining good nutrition and hydration

  • accurate assessment and screening
  • well informed staff and families
  • supportive visiting environments
  • acknowledgement of the issue
  • protected meal times
  • conducive environment
  • motivated staff
  • variety and choice of appropriate food and drink
  • accessibility to meals at a time to suit the individual
  • personalised care planning
  • encouraging family and friends to be involved
  • aids to support nutrition