A Healthcare support worker at Holywell Community Hospital is using her experience of caring for a family member to help patients stay hydrated.
Hannah Ashmore has championed the use of specially designed cups to help improve patients’ fluid intake while on the ward.
The cups are ergonomically designed to be easier to hold, harder to spill and contain extra water.
They also come with an insert to help control the flow of fluids, supporting people who have inhibited mobility.
Hannah was inspired to champion their use after seeing her granddad Barry use a hospital-provided beaker, which she felt didn’t encourage regular fluid intake.
Staying hydrated when in hospital can be a challenge to patients, in particular for older adults and for people with dementia.
When poorly, patents can often not feel motivated to drink. People with memory difficulties can forget to drink enough, and their brain may no longer tell them when they’re thirsty.
Hannah said her experiences inspired her to do more to help people in her care stay hydrated.
Hannah said: “My granddad was given a beaker when in hospital and I assumed it was because he was a certain age, but when I looked into it there was a much better solution out there.
“I just don’t think the normal hospital beakers are as good for some older people, and aren’t designed to encourage them to drink more.
“Patients love these specially designed cups compared to the normal ones. I’ve seen how they encourage people to drink more. Even though they look the same, we’re getting more fluid into our patients.”
A total of 44 cups were purchased using hospital funds, with similar designs also purchased for use at Deeside Hospital and the Heddfan Unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Hannah and the team at Ffynnon Ward in Holywell Hospital carried out a pilot to test whether the cups improved hydration.
Over a four-week period, a group of ten patients who used the cups drank an increased average amount of fluid. None of the patients experienced falls or developed UTIs during the period, further signs of improved hydration.
Rebecca McConnell, Ward Sister at Holywell Hospital, said: “We wanted to do something to improve hydration, and research helped us find this particular design of cups.
“They come in one or two-handled designs, and have an increased volume of fluid they can contain, as well as thickener to help patients with swallowing difficulties.
“Patient feedback forms have shown patients are extremely happy with the new cups and will now ask for one specifically.
“During our pilot, fluid balance charts we kept showed improved amounts of water were being drunk. We saw no falls among the test group, and no infections, which means we had a reduction in antibiotic use on the ward.
“Patient experience was broadly really positive, so we’re looking at ways to purchase more and share our findings with other hospitals in North Wales.”
Sue Brierley-Hobson, Head of Dietetics for Central Area, said: “The consequences of dehydration to patients in hospital are substantial. Dehydration can lead to further illness, confusion and increase the chance of falling.
“Patients who are dehydrated take longer to recover from illness and stay in hospital longer.
“Any initiative which helps our patients to drink more should be celebrated, so it’s great to hear about the work Hannah, Rebecca and the team at Holywell have been doing.”