20% of Residents are Dehydrated

An Imperial College graduate, inspired by the problems faced by his elderly grandmother, has crowdfunded a project to develop an innovative product to help care home residents avoid dehydration.

24-year-old Lewis Hornby raised £5,000 via a JustGiving page to enable him to produce “Jelly Drops”, bite size, flavoured water pods, packaged to look like sweets. The pods are 90% water but also contain electrolytes and gelling agents meaning that can easily be handled by people with dementia or poor dexterity and are suitable for people with swallowing difficulties.

Research by the University of East Anglia has suggested that up to 20% of people living in care homes are routinely dehydrated so any new approach to improving fluid intake should be welcomed. Read on to learn more about Jelly Drops and other ways you can help to ensure your service users with dementia remain well hydrated.

Improve Hydration

Hornby developed Jelly Drops in response to his grandmother’s admission to hospital with severe dehydration. After she recovered, he noted how much easier she and other people with dementia found eating in comparison to drinking, and began to research ways of helping in future. The product was designed to be visually appealing and easy to handle with the outcome that when first offered to his grandmother, she ate 7 drops in 10 minutes, equivalent to a whole glass of water!

Jelly Drops have since received widespread acclaim, receiving the prestigious James Dyson Award for innovation and are now undergoing further trials with a view to being produced commercially. However, even though it may be a while before the drops are widely seen in care homes, there are a number of other alternative methods of improving hydration you can try today.

Service Users Who Won’t Drink? Try These 4 Alternative Methods of Improving Hydration 

  1. Fruit: Most fruits have a high water content and can be served in ways that make it easy for service users with dementia to snack on them to help improve fluid intake. By peeling and chopping fruits such as melon, apple, grapes or berries, they can be offered in a bowl and eaten as finger snacks between meals.
  2. Salad and vegetables: Providing foods such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce and tomatoes will add additional fluid to a person’s diet without the need to drink. Iceberg lettuce and cucumber contain 96% water and tomato contains 94% so all are excellent ways of improving hydration.
  3. Frozen treats: Ice lollies or pieces of fruit that are frozen onto a stick can be useful alternatives to drinks. These can be particularly popular in warmer weather as part of summer activities or events.
  4. Fruit jelly: Individual jellies can be made up in advance and made available at any time as an addition to meals or to provide “top up” fluids. Jelly can be particularly useful for helping frail or bedfast service users as it can be spooned into the person’s mouth and allowed to dissolve rather than struggling with drinks which they may spill or struggle to retain in their mouth.

If you need help assessing and minimising risks faced by service users in your care, Care Quality Matters provides simple, step-by-step advice and guidance on health and safety in care every month. Click here to find out more.

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