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Manchester, United Kingdom

Watkinson-Powell A.,University of Sheffield | Barnes S.,University of Sheffield | Lovatt M.,University of Sheffield | Wasielewska A.,Directorate for Families | Drummond B.,Directorate for Families
Health and Social Care in the Community

Malnutrition is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly among older people. Attention has focused on the inadequacies of food provision in institutions, yet the majority suffering from malnutrition live in the community. The aim of this study was to explore barriers and facilitators to food provision for older people receiving home care. It was a qualitative exploratory study using semi-structured interviews with nine home-care workers in June 2013 employed by independent agencies in a large city in northern England. Data were analysed thematically, based on the principles of grounded theory. Findings showed that significant time pressures limited home-care workers in their ability to socially engage with service users at mealtimes, or provide them with anything other than ready meals. Enabling choice was considered more important than providing a healthy diet, but choice was limited by food availability and reliance on families for shopping. Despite their knowledge of service users and their central role in providing food, home-care workers received little nutritional training and were not involved by healthcare professionals in the management of malnutrition. Despite the rhetoric of individual choice and importance of social engagement and nutrition for health and well-being, nutritional care has been significantly compromised by cuts to social care budgets. The potential role for home-care workers in promoting good nutrition in older people is undervalued and undermined by the lack of recognition, training and time dedicated to food-related care. This has led to a situation whereby good quality food and enjoyable mealtimes are denied to many older people on the basis that they are unaffordable luxuries rather than an integral component of fundamental care. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

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