Friday, 2 March 2012

Supporting the Cornwall Hydration Innovation Project

I was delighted to recently meet with Lord Howe and Naomi Campbell RGN, a front line nurse from Falmouth Hospital, to discuss the important work Naomi has been conducting on the Cornwall Hydration Innovation Project.

 Naomi has spent the last three years of her own time developing practical and cost effective solutions to help tackle the long term problem of dehydration in elderly care settings. Her knowledge and understanding of dehydration is now recognised at a national level and she has been invited to join several national steering groups including the All Parliamentary Hydration Forum, Chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross at the House of Lords.

Naomi has been commissioned to write for national nursing journals and attracted interest from Australia and the USA where dehydration is also a major concern.

 Above all else, Naomi’s work is focused on finding new innovative ways to ensure patients are given enough help to drink, according to their individual needs.  “As a result of my studies I have identified several weaknesses in the systems and processes that support hydration care. I firmly believe my project will help create new ways of thinking - resulting in new resources, equipment and training to help all nursing staff and organisations provide consistent best practice and improve the quality of care.

Naomi says “trying to help elderly people to drink adequate amounts of fluids can be very challenging, it requires significant nursing time, gentle encouragement, patience and physical assistance. I became particularly interested in hydration after nursing my terminally ill mother at home and having an idea for a simple drinking aid. Only by nursing someone do you truly understand ‘just how difficult it can be to help someone to drink.’ However, there can be absolutely no excuse for leaving drinks out of reach or letting people die from lack of water.

Helping our elderly and vulnerable patients to drink more could prevent thousands of avoidable emergency admissions or increased length of stay due to falls, urine infections and confusion etc. Dehydration costs the NHS billions each year; the human suffering is immeasurable.”

The project is supported by NHS Innovations (South West) who helped her secure a grant from the Regional Innovation Fund.  Naomi is also delighted to be working closely with the elderly care organisation ‘Cornwall Care’ who are hugely supportive of her project aims and will be actively involved in trialling new equipment and assessment skills. It is hoped the findings of the trials in Cornwall will help shape a future national policy for hydration.

Naomi works part-time as a senior minor injuries unit nurse and is the founder and an active member of a multi disciplinary ‘Paediatric emergency care network’ which is now in its third year. However, her long term ambition is to also to create a working role focused on hydration care.

I am really pleased to see this project develop and think it is a real ‘one to watch’ going forward in terms of caring for some of our most vulnerable people.

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