There are certain groups of people who are at higher risk of malnutrition, such as those living with chronic conditions, those with mental health needs and those who are approaching the end of life.
Those undergoing major surgery or having experienced trauma may also be at risk.
Signs and effects of malnutrition may include:
or unexplained weight loss
tired, lacking energy
increased risk of illnesses or infections
a BMI under 18.5
muscle and tissue mass
of pressure ulcer development and delayed wound
mobility and stamina
libido (sex drive) and fertility problems
chance in developing post-operative complications
Nursing staff must:
- listen to patients, their relatives and carers
- understand how ageing affects nutritional needs
- understand how illness and medication affect appetite and nutritional needs
- become food aware, meals are just as important as medication
- assess patients for signs or risk of malnourishment in health and social care settings and in the community
- assess skin integrity on admission and at regular intervals
- work with the patient, families and members of the MDT to address malnutrition
- ensure that the appropriate diet is being provided in health and social care settings
- provide advice and support to families and carers in relation to diet
- make sure mealtimes are protected
Seeking advice from specialist colleagues is important as appropriate.
NICE has produced guidance to help health professionals identify those who are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition.
BAPEN e-Learning Portal: A range of free e-Learning modules with case studies covering malnutrition, nutrition support and nutritional screening using ‘MUST’.