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Managing hydration risk: an education initiative

The aim of the project is to provide workforce training to use these tools required to embed (a) hydration management and (b) routine education of patients into patient care via healthcare professionals, patients and carers


This pilot project seeks to train a cohort of hospital-based nurses and health care assistants to use hydration assessment tools in two acute and two community hospitals (the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust).

The project will comprise of:

  1. Training staff to assess and manage hydration risk in patients.
  2. Training staff to teach patients and their carers to self- manage their hydration.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust has a network of volunteers (buddies) whose roles include mealtime support and health training.  We will explore the feasibility of training the volunteers to support patient self-management of hydration.

In the latter stages of the project, we will pilot the training and hydration tools with a team of District Nurses providing intermediate care for complex patients in their own homes. This will allow us to make recommendations about any tailoring required to roll out the training package to this group.

The use of two acute hospitals and two community hospitals (in different NHS Trusts) will help to identify any organisational issues, including staffing resources, that may impact on implementation of the training package and sustainability of the training.

The project will be conducted on two wards at each hospital (total eight wards).  It will involve at least 80 nurses and HCAs (60 from each acute hospital and 10 from each community hospital).

Based on current admission rates, and assuming that 75% of patients will be appropriate and willing to be involved, 1080 patients will be involved (360 from each acute hospital and 180 from each community hospital).

We anticipate that 50% of patients will have at least one carer involved in the self-management education; hence we will involve at least 540 carers. We anticipate at least ten volunteers will be trained to assist with patient self-management.

The funding will be used to embed the hydration assessment training and documentation and to capture outcomes from the training.

The project is aiming to be completed in June 2016.

Professor Ruth Endacott, Director, Centre for Health and Social Care Innovation at University of Plymouth, Plymouth said: “This project has provided a great opportunity to get clinicians working together across professions and across two NHS Trusts. We’ve linked in with national initiatives to improve hydration management and are about to start implementing the hydration assessment tools using rapid change cycles.”

Anticipated benefits:

Key to success of this project is whether the training actually changes behaviour hence we will evaluate:

  • Completion of the hydration assessment tool at one month and three months following the training.
  • Staff experience and satisfaction with (i) the tool and (ii) the training.
  • Patient experiences of using the self-management tools and communication with health care professionals.

Outcomes from the pilot should allow us to make recommendations about the integration of this training into existing workforce development schemes. 

The methods used for the project will build on existing resources hence the interventions (clinician and patient/carer education) are likely to be sustainable beyond the life of the project.

The project outcomes will also provide insight for commissioners on nurses and HCA delivery of self-management education for patients and carers.

For more information, please contact Professor Ruth Endacott.


This Page was last updated on: 26 November 2015

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