Better nutritional care for the elderly before, during and after hospitalisation

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Malnutrition before, during and after hospital admission is a major health problem encountered in the elderly. In this research, we chart this problem from the perspective of nurses. We also develop an intervention that enables nurses to provide good nutritional care.

Objective

We are developing a scientific intervention that will enable nurses to provide the elderly with good nutritional care. The objective is to help avoid or treat the malnutrition encountered in the elderly before, during and after hospitalisation.

Results

Literature on the subject describes a number of interventions that nurses can use in the day-to-day nutritional care provided to the elderly. For example, food supplements or educating the elderly and their informal caregivers. 

A number of conclusions emerge from the sub-studies completed. For example, nurses do not know enough about nutrition. They often also have a neutral attitude about the provision of nutritional care to the elderly in the period before, during and after hospitalisation. Nurses often fail to sufficiently recognise the importance of prioritising nutrition in the day-to-day care provided too.

Duration

01 November 2014 - 01 November 2020

Approach

The following parts of this PhD research have been completed:

  • A systematic review: which interventions for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition among the elderly can nurses use in their work and which of them work?
  • Qualitative research on nutritional care among the elderly and informal caregivers: what experiences have they had and what do they need?
  • Qualitative and quantitative research among district and hospital nurses and other professionals: what is their perspective and vision on the provision of nutritional care to the elderly?

Efforts are now being made to improve the knowledge that nurses have of nutrition, so that they are able to provide good nutritional care. One first step is the development of a tool to measure and improve the knowledge that nurses have of nutrition for the elderly. We will then turn our attention to efforts to ensure that this tool becomes part of day-to-day nursing care.

Nurses would then learn about nutrition for the elderly via an online platform that would present them with a new question every day. Nurses would then immediately incorporate the knowledge they gain in this way into the care they provide to the elderly. This form of learning does not add too much to the workload of nurses, because of which they are easily able to combine it with the day-to-day care provided.

The improvement of knowledge about nutrition could lead to the provision of better nutritional care to the elderly by nurses in the period before, during and after hospitalisation.

 

HU researchers involved in the research

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