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Water Supply: Older People

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the need for fresh drinking water to be made available to older people in hospitals and care homes; and [HL8109]

Whether they will instruct the Food Standards Agency to include in its new Nutrient and Food Based Guidance for Care Homes measures to ensure that free, fresh water in addition to other drinks is made available to residents throughout the day.[HL8110]

The Care Homes Regulations state that homes must provide, in adequate quantities, suitable, wholesome and nutritious food which is varied and properly prepared and available at such times as may reasonably be required by service users. Food, in the regulations, includes fluids.

The review of the National Minimum Standards for Care Homes, which the Commission for Social Care Inspection must take into account when inspecting care homes, is ongoing and will be subject to public consultation in due course. The issue of availability of drinking water to residents is being considered as part of the review. The intention is to implement any revised standards in 2007.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) published, on 19 October 2006, nutrient and food-based advice for those providing food in care homes. The advice includes example menus, which include making 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 make water freely available throughout the day.

There is no specific standard relating to the provision of drinking water in the National Health Service. However, there are two core standards that refer to food, against which the Healthcare Commission assesses as part of its annual health check. Food, for this purpose, as in care homes, includes fluids.