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Care Services: Fresh Drinking Water

Volume 687: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether care standards require that fresh drinking water is available to care residents throughout the day and that it is offered to them regularly; and [HL215]

Whether they will take further steps to ensure that fresh water is a required element of the nutritional standards for older people in care. [HL216]

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 review of the NMS, 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 Food Standards Agency (FSA) published nutrient and food-based advice for those providing food in care homes on 19 October 2006. This 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 be making water freely available throughout the day.

The nutrient and food-based guidance for those providing residential care for older people is the first part in a series of guidance documents for United Kingdom institutions. The FSA expects to produce guidance for other institutions, including the National Health Service and prisons, in early 2007.