The recent heatwave may have just ended, but the Met Office predicts another will be upon us in late August, and we will surely see more in years to come. Ensuring that patients stay hydrated is vital during these peak temperatures.
For many reasons, patients in hospitals are vulnerable to dehydration, especially during long hot summer days. Particularly vulnerable are the elderly, as they could be totally reliant on ward staff to supply them with enough fluids.
So, how much is ‘enough’ and what kind of drinks count as fluid?
Factors impacting fluid needs
The amount of fluid required depends on several things including age, body temperature, environmental temperature, activity and losses due to vomiting or sickness.
In general, each day, adults need approximately:
- Women – 1600ml for example 6 mugs (volume 250ml each) or 8 cups (volume 200ml each).
- Men – 2000ml for example 8 mugs (volume 250ml each) or 10 cups (volume 200ml each).
On hot days, people lose water through sweating, so the requirement to replace lost fluids goes up. In hot weather, patients should be encouraged to drink more than 6 – 8 mugs of fluid per day.
What fluids count?
|Tap Water||Freely available|
Bottle recycling machines
|We have a range of bottled waters available from our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework.|
We also have canned water available from the same framework (still and sparkling), providing a sustainable alternative.
Our range of water coolers and refill stations can encourage staff and visitors to refill bottles and cut down on consumption, and by being easy access encourage water drinking throughout the day. They can be found on our Hot Beverages and Vending Consumables framework page.
Note that some people find the bubbles in sparkling water even more refreshing.
Apple and Blackcurrant
|Squash options can be found on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework. Opt for ‘no added sugar’ for nutritionally well patients.|
|Canned fizzy fruit juices and canned fizzy soft drinks||Canned fizzy drink options can be found on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework. Again, opt for ‘no added sugar’ for nutritionally well patients.|
|Flavoured iced tea (served hot or cold)||Hot or cold tea can be used to maintain hydration on a hot day but beware of added sugar and limit this option if you are watching weight. Flavoured iced tea can be found on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework.|
|Hot or cold coffee||Options are available on our Hot Beverages and Vending Consumables framework. You can also make iced coffee for one – see our recipe.|
|Fruit juices||Fruit juices are always thirst-quenching and provide extra vitamins and minerals on a hot day. Find a selection on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework.|
|Milk with flavouring||Why not flavour the milk to make a nourishing and tasty cold drink for nutritionally well patients? We have both dairy and dairy-free options available on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework.|
Moist foods also provide fluids and can help with hydration. Here are some suggestions:
|Salads||A lighter meal choice from the menu can provide moisture. Find produce to make a moisture-rich salad on our Food To Go framework.|
|Flavoured jellies and jelly pots||A great pudding choice on the menu or as a snack item.|
|Ice creams in various flavours.||As well as being an exciting summertime treat, ice cream provides extra calories for nutritionally vulnerable patients. Find options on our Multi Temperature Food Solutions framework page.|
|Ice lollies||A great option for a cooling snack. Some of the branded items offered are low in calories – for nutritionally well patients. Find options on our Multi Temperature Food Solutions framework page.|
|Fruit such as watermelon, oranges or apples.|
|Speak to your Food Account Manager about our fresh food options.|
Why not try ready prepared fruit salad in fruit juice pots as a convenient alternative? These can be found on our Cold Beverages, Confectionery and Snacks framework page.
|Tinned soups||A good starter option from the menu. We have a large range available from our Ambient Food framework, currently undergoing procurement activity but products are still available to order.|
|Custard in large pack sizes or as small snack pots||A nourishing snack option suitable for patients needing extra calories. Available on a range of frameworks, speak to your Food Account Manager for more information.|
Hints and tips on how to make sure your patients are well hydrated:
- Offer a variety of drinks to prevent boredom
- Encourage drinking at every meal time and in between meals
- Help your patients to drink where necessary
- Provide aids for drinking if necessary, for example specially designed cups
- Encourage your patient to choose moist foods from the menu
- Try offering ice lollies as a low calorie treat between meals or as a pudding option
- For your most vulnerable patients, set a fluid goal and then monitor fluid intake
- If you are unsure about the suitability of a drink for your patient(s) please contact your local dietitian.
Recipe for iced coffee (serves one person)
Coffee granules: two sachets of instant coffee or one tablespoon of instant coffee granules (various options available from our approved Hot Beverages and Vending Solutions framework.
Hot water: 2 tablespoons
Ice cubes: 2 to 3 cubes
Approximately 150ml of cold water
Milk to taste
Sugar to taste
- In a glass or a beaker, dissolve the coffee granules in the hot water by stirring.
- Add the ice cubes to the glass or beaker.
- Add the cold water to cover the ice cubes leaving enough room for the milk if desired.
- Add milk and sugar as desired.
- Stir and serve.
See our Useful Links section to see all of our frameworks and for contact details of your local Food Account Manager who can assist with further information.
You can also download Product Listings on the individual framework pages.
If you are unsure about what drinks are suitable for your patients, please contact your local dietitian.