An older lady eating

Over 3 million people across the UK are either malnourished or at risk of malnourishment. Over 1 million are over the age of 65.

Age UK is a founding member of The Malnutrition Task Force, an independent group of experts across health, social care and local government united to address avoidable and preventable malnutrition in older people. The Task Force is chaired by Age UK’s Chairman Dianne Jeffrey CBE DL.

The Malnutrition Task Force is currently piloting a prevention programme, funded by The Department of Health, to help the 1 million older people in England who are suffering from or are at risk of malnutrition.

About the programme

The programme sees whole communities – including local NHS trusts, hospitals, GP practices, care homes and community groups – coming together to tackle malnutrition. The aim is to significantly reduce the number of people aged 65 and over in these areas who are malnourished.

This whole community approach is currently being piloted in five different areas across England, with the learning and results from these to be disseminated nationally. The pilot areas are Gateshead, Salford, Purbeck in Dorset, Keny and Lambeth and Southwark.

The Programme is part of the Government’s response to the Francis Report into the failings at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust (see ‘Recommendation 241‘ on the Department of Health website).

The report revealed that patients, many of them older, had been unable to eat or drink properly and that nutrition was not treated as a priority.

5 key principles

The Programme is based on 5 principles, identified by the Malnutrition Task Force, that are key to providing good nutrition and hydration care:

  1. Raise awareness of malnutrition
  2. Work together
  3. Identify older people who are malnourished or at risk
  4. Provide support, care and treatment and monitor progress;
  5. Monitor and evaluate your activities

All organisations participating in the ‘whole communities’ approach will implement the five principles above in a way that reflects the locally agreed vision and objectives.