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Keep care home residents hydrated with a water cooler

Posted On : 30/09/2015


How often do we say it; "I'm simply dying from thirst"? In the UK, in the 21st century, surely that could never actually happen.

It could actually happen, and it does happen to vulnerable people in care homes and hospitals, especially those who are elderly.

What could be simpler than ensuring a patient or resident has access to fluid and the ability to drink either with help or independently?

Importantly the fluid should be pleasant to drink; a jug of tepid tap water is quite often not appealing.

There are many ways to hydrate care home residents, including offering tea, milk, soup, juices and foods with a high water content.

However, plain water remains one of the best means of hydration, not only for residents, but also staff. In turn, probably the best means of supplying water in a cost-effective, delicious and sustainable manner is to do so via water coolers.

Constant reminder

Water coolers can act as a constant reminder to patients and staff to stay hydrated and research has proven that having such a visible reminder does increase fluid intake.

It's important that staff at every level in care homes, not just on the catering side of the business, understand a few basic facts.

For the residents themselves, those who are able to understand the need to take care of themselves could also usefully benefit from an understanding of the dangers of dehydration.

Elderly people are frightened of drinking, believing that they will need to go to the toilet more often, when in fact the reverse is true.

The thirst mechanism declines with age and so, for vulnerable elderly people, it is important to regularly remind them to drink.

Sometimes taking drinks as well as foods in small quantities throughout the day can be more manageable.

Cognitive decline

Those working with elderly people who are experiencing cognitive decline must remember that these residents are especially at risk.

Dementia patients don't think to drink and this in turn impairs their cognitive acuity still further, rendering dehydration an even bigger risk.

Water coolers, either bottled or mains-fed, offer the facility of fresh, appetising water to be easily available 24/7, where the residents are.

It's also important to remember that care staff also need to remain healthily hydrated. 

A water cooler is a quick and easy way for staff to grab a drink and stay hydrated while on a busy shift.

Their energy and alertness resulting from good hydration will enable them to remain alert to the needs of those they are caring for. And a cooler on hand means they don't have to find time for a prolonged break, they can hydrate easily on the go.

A hydration policy does not need to be complex, but it does need to exist; and if hydration issues are to be effectively tackled in the long term, those running and working in care homes need to think about hydration now.