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Care Homes: Drinking Water

Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps have been taken since October 2005 to ensure that fresh drinking water is available free of charge to care home residents throughout the day; (141209)

(2) what steps have been taken since October 2006 to ensure that care standards require that fresh drinking water is (a) available and (b) regularly offered to care home residents throughout the day; and if she will make a statement.

Regulation 16 of the Care Homes Regulations requires care homes to provide, in adequate quantities, suitable, wholesome and nutritious food which is varied and properly prepared and available at such time as may reasonably be required by service users. Food, in the regulations, includes drink.

Standard 15 of the National Minimum Standards (NMS) for Care Homes for Older People includes the requirements that:

service users receive a varied, appealing, wholesome and nutritious diet, which is suited to individual assessed and recorded requirements, and that meals are taken in a congenial setting and at flexible times; and

hot and cold drinks and snacks are available at all times and offered regularly.

The NMS for Care Homes for Older People were originally issued in 2002; no changes have been made to them since October 2005.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) published nutrient and food based advice for those providing food in care homes in October 2006. Copies are available in the Library. The advice includes guidance on appropriate nutrient intakes, healthy eating, allergy and food hygiene tips. There is also an example menu plan, to help caterers for care homes follow the guidance, with a technical report showing how the menus follow FSA advice.

The example menus include recommendations to make water available at all eating occasions. Government advice is that we need to drink six to eight glasses of fluid every day. It is therefore implicit that care homes should be making water freely available throughout the day.

The advice documents, “Nutrient and food based Guidelines for UK Institutions” (October 2006), “Food served to Older People in Residential Care” (October 2006) and “Example Menus for Care Homes” (August 2006) are also available on the FSA’s website at