Patients have broader needs than only those related to their treatment or condition. For example, NICE highlights the importance of nutrition and pain management as being essential requirements of good care.
Patients reported that their fundamental needs were largely met during the pandemic, with most patients saying they got enough to drink while in hospital. However, results relating to medicine were slightly less positive, particularly among COVID-19 patients.
CQC have addressed the importance of meeting patients’ needs in their regulatory process. The guidance for providers is that they must include people’s nutrition and hydration needs when making an initial assessment of care needs and have a food and drink strategy that addresses people’s needs.
CQC also highlights the importance of encouraging patients to eat and drink, particularly older patients, to maintain strength and avoid frailty.
Poor hydration in older patients can lead to other health issues, such as urinary tract infections, increased risk of falls, confusion and pressure ulcers. For patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there are particular challenges when it comes to hydration, as in the later stages of dementia, people can experience difficulty swallowing. Therefore, it is extremely important that staff ensure patients remain hydrated during their stay in hospital. Almost all patients (92%) responded ‘yes’ when asked if during their time in hospital they had enough to drink. However, 4% said they were ‘not given enough to drink’, 1% said they ‘did not get enough help’ and 3% said ‘no, for another reason’. There were no differences between COVID-19 and non-COVID patients for this question.
Medication while in hospital
The majority of patients needing their own medicine while in hospital were able to take it. Four in five said they were ‘always’ able to take it when needed (80%), though 10% said they were ‘never’ able to take their own medicine in hospital.
COVID-19 patients were less positive; 75% said they could ‘always’ take their medicine compared with 80% of patients without a COVID diagnosis.