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Staff awareness of food and fluid care needs for older people with dementia in residential care: A qualitative study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 12:52 authored by Emma LeaEmma Lea, Lynette GoldbergLynette Goldberg, Price, AD, Laura Tierney, Frances McInerneyFrances McInerney

Aims and objectives: To examine awareness of aged care home staff regarding daily food and fluid care needs of older people with dementia.

Background: Older people in residential care frequently are malnourished, and many have dementia. Staff knowledge of the food and fluid needs of people with dementia is limited. Qualitative research on this topic is scarce but can provide insight into how nutrition and hydration care may be improved.

Design: Qualitative, interview-based study.

Methods: Eleven staff in a range of positions at one care home were interviewed regarding their perceptions of current and potential food/fluid care practices. Transcripts were coded and analysed thematically.

Results: Key food and fluid issues reported by these staff members were weight loss and malnutrition, chewing and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia), and inadequate hydration. Staff identified a number of current care practices that they felt to be effective in facilitating older people’s food and fluid intake, including responsiveness to their needs. Staff suggestions to facilitate food and fluid intake centred on improved composition and timing of meals, enhanced physical and social eating environment, and increased hydration opportunities. Staff commented on factors that may prevent changes to care practices, particularly the part-time workforce, and proposed changes to overcome such barriers.

Conclusions: Staff were aware of key food and fluid issues experienced by the older people in their care and of a range of beneficial care practices, but lacked knowledge of many promising care practices and/or how to implement such practices. Relevance to clinical practice: Staff need to be supported to build on their existing knowledge around effective food and fluid care practices. The numerous ideas staff expressed for changing care practices can be leveraged by facilitating staff networking to work and learn together to implement evidence-based change.


Publication title

Journal of clinical nursing










Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health related to ageing

Usage metrics

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