The red cups helping older people stay safe and well | News

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The red cups helping older people stay safe and well

Elderly people living in a Hampshire care home are less likely to stumble or fall thanks to a remarkably simple scheme that encourages older people to drink more.

Nurses working in West Hampshire CCG area introduced the idea, which uses red coloured glasses to prompt residents to drink water regularly.  Dehydration among older people can lead to a deterioration in mental state, and increase the risk of dizziness and fainting. Staying well hydrated can, on the other hand, help prevent falls as well as reduce urinary infection and improve concentration, memory and reaction time.  

Hampshire County Council’s Westholme nursing and residential home, near Winchester, took part in the trial to encourage the elderly to drink more.

Rachel Lock, a senior nurse working with West Hampshire CCG who initiated the pilot said: “I’d seen how using coloured cups in a ward setting were making a difference and I was interested in trying it in a residential care home. The results are remarkable, but at this early stage they are only an indication – but it’s an encouraging start. The red glass needs to be used as part of an individualised plan of care.”

The cups were a success in part because of how the whole home – staff and residents – embraced the idea. A mix of staff training, the appointing of a ‘hydration champion’ and the introduction of a blender to make smoothies all contributed to the success of the pilot.  

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We were very pleased to be able to work with the CCG to improve hydration levels among our residents at Westholme and have been delighted by the results.  It proves that even simple changes can make all the difference.   Trips, slips and falls at the home have reduced by 85% since December 2016 – a fantastic outcome for all involved.”

Using the red cups is one part of a wider plan to encourage older people in care to drink more water and stay well hydrated. There are also plans to collaborate with Bournemouth University in a trial using different coloured glasses to test their effectiveness in tackling the issue of poor hydration in elderly people.