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A new training program called the Better Nutrition in Care Homes (BeNCH) Project has been launched in North West Surrey to help improve the assessment and nutritional management of residents in adult care homes.

The BeNCH Project was set up by Janet Brewer, the Care Home Support Dietitian at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with CSH Surrey. As part of the project, Janet will be holding virtual training sessions for care home staff in North West Surrey on a number of different topics. The training is for all staff working in these care homes to help them understand good nutrition and increase their awareness around how they can support residents with their nutritional needs.

The project launches with training on Malnutrition and Food First. This session aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the use of the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) to identify care home residents who may be at risk of malnutrition, and encourages ‘Food First’ principles to help manage or prevent malnutrition.

It is thought that malnutrition affects over 3 million people in the UK, and nearly half (1.3 million) of those are aged 65+. According to BAPEN’s Nutritional Screening Week surveys (2007-11), between 30-42% of patients admitted to care homes are at risk of malnutrition. Malnutrition can go unnoticed amongst elderly people living in care homes as losing weight from not consuming enough nutrients can sometimes be mistaken for other reasons.

Janet said: “It’s fantastic to be able to launch a project that will benefit the lives of so many care home residents across North West Surrey. The BeNCH Project will help to raise awareness of malnutrition, how to spot the signs amongst those living in adult care homes and help staff to understand better how to support residents with their nutritional needs.”

Andy Field, Chairman of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and CSH Surrey, said: “I’m delighted that the BeNCH Project is being launched and am sure that it will make a real difference to many care home residents in our local community. As Chairman of both organisations, it is great to see such a collaborative effort from both Ashford and St Peter’s and CSH Surrey to raise awareness and improve understanding of this important subject.”