Nursing staff at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, who introduced a project to keep elderly patients hydrated, will be visited by the Chief Nursing Officer today (June 26th) to launch the campaign across NHS Wales.
Sister Chris Martin introduced the “Drink a Drop” project on ward four in Prince Charles Hospital after recognising dehydration as a contributory factor in patient falls. Research shows that dehydration has the potential to cause unnecessary harm to patients, including low blood pressure, confusion, constipation and pressure ulcers.
Research suggests that by giving a patient up to 50mls of water at every interaction improves hydration significantly and can reduce the risk of harm.
Sister Martin noted that patients had at least eight to ten interactions a day with staff or families where additional water could be offered, and this simple concept formed the basis of her “Drink a Drop” idea.
The project has now become a Cwm Taf University Health Board-wide campaign. “It is such a simple thing to do and yet it has made an enormous difference to our patients,” said Sister Martin. “It is especially important in the summer months that our patients drink plenty of water and there is strong medical evidence that it can help prevent and treat a series of ailments.
“Dehydration has been identified as one of the risk factors for falls in older people because it can lead to a deterioration in mental state and increase the risk of dizziness and fainting so we are promoting hydration as a key element of our falls prevention strategy.”
Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Jean White said: “There are many examples of nursing teams doing great work to ensure their patients are properly hydrated. We want to build on these local successes with this national campaign. It is vital that patients – especially frail and elderly people in hospital – are kept hydrated.”