Case study: improving hydration awareness amongst care home residents in Torbay and South Devon


Community dietitians from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust are working across 33 residential and nursing homes to ensure residents are drinking enough to reduce their risk of falls and illnesses associated with dehydration.

The hydration project aims to improve the health of residents by raising awareness of the importance of hydration amongst residents and staff.

Between May 2021 and November 2022, the number of falls requiring a hospital admission fell by 63% and incidences of urinary tract infections requiring antibiotics reduced by 18.5%.

What does the hydration project involve?

Hydration for older people is important to reduce the risk of falls and illnesses such as urinary tract infections. Many older people don’t feel thirsty or forget to drink enough so will need extra support to stay hydrated.

Becoming dehydrated can lead to dizziness and feeling light-headed, which could cause a fall. Dehydration can also lead to constipation and a higher risk of developing pressure sores.

Dieticians develop a personalised hydration action plan for each resident. They provide on-going support to care home staff to ensure residents are hydrated. This support is centred around three core elements:

  1. hydration training delivered in-house for care home staff
  2. nominated ‘hydration champions’ who attend further specialist training
  3. 7 structured drinks rounds throughout the day.

Each care home in the project has staff `Hydration Champions’ who are then trained in hydration (covering falls training, continence training, swallowing difficulties and recognising hydration). Hydration Champions advise colleagues on implementing resident drinks rounds and drinks stations. All staff receive broader hydration training.

What impact has the hydration project had on the health of residents?

Improving the health of residents through increased hydration has also improved their quality of life and wellbeing. The project has reduced incidences of urinary tract infections (UTI) requiring antibiotics by 18.5%. The number of people who needed to go to hospital for treatment for a UTI was reduced by 100%. The number of falls that resulted in a hospital admission reduced by 63.6% (data correct at November 2022).

How have colleagues found being part of the hydration project?

“We are so proud to be a part of the hydration project, it has really impacted on the team and residents.”

– Care Home Manager, Briarcroft

What would your top tips be?

  • Make hydration and nutrition training sessions fun!
  • Work with individual care homes to provide recommendations suitable and appropriate for their environment and service users.
  • Encourage care home managers to become hydration champions themselves and/or nominate staff who are passionate and enthusiastic about making change happen.

For more information, please contact:

Victoria Wicks, Specialist Clinical Community Dietitian, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust: