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Three nurses holding the red cups

Nursing teams at Airedale Hospital have introduced an innovative yet simple approach to reduce the risk of dehydration in their patients – all with a red cup.

From this week over 500 red cups, funded as part of a grant from NHS England, are being sent to all wards in the hospital.  The red cups will be given to patients staying on wards who are at risk of not drinking enough, to signify to other healthcare staff that they need extra support and encouragement to drink.

Dehydration affects our physical and mental health.  It can affect our mood and feelings as well as our body.  Signs of dehydration include dark urine, tiredness, dry mouth and headaches and it can result in urinary tract infections and confusion in some cases.

It’s recommended that people should drink around 6-8 glasses of water or 2 litres per day for healthy adults but staying hydrated when in hospital can be a challenge for some patients as Arlene Beausire, Infection Prevention Nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, explains:

“There are lots of reasons why people don’t drink enough when they come into hospital, when you’re feeling poorly you don’t always feel motivated to drink, they might have communication difficulties or it can be because of dementia, where patients might not recognise when they are thirsty or it could be people who are sedated or drowsy that might need reminding of the need to drink.”

Arlene continues:

“We only need to lose 1% of water from our body to start to experience problems.  These cups will alert any staff on the ward, it doesn’t have to be nursing staff, so they can just encourage the patient to drink whenever they need it. Every little sip helps.”

Katie Widdop, Senior Sister on ward 10 at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Good hydration is so important for all our patients.  They eat better, they sleep better and it helps prevent other medical problems developing like low blood pressure or kidney stones.  It also helps their medications to work properly and reduces their risk of infection.  Nutrition and hydration help them get out of bed which also prevents deconditioning and dizziness which can lead to falls which means their stay in hospital would be longer.”

“It will highlight to all our staff that they need prompting to drink.  They’re a great idea and an easy way for staff to know who needs that extra bit of help.”

The hospital is also planning to provide a new and improved drinks menu for patients, which will have a choice of 8 drink selections, including decaffeinated options and green tea, hot chocolate and cold refreshing squashes, which will be on the trollies which visit the wards four times a day, as well as being available on request.

The new red cups complement the red tray system the trust already provides, to identify patients that need help with eating.