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Patient water jugs developed with patients for patients

Water jug designed to encourage patient hydration

Friday 15 March 2019

Nutrition and Hydration week is the perfect time to reflect on the importance of good hydration and the role it plays in quality care, patient experience and safety improvement in health and social care settings.

“Good hydration is essential to maximise a patient's chance of recovery. The appearance of water and how easy it is for a patient to help themselves, directly impacts on their hydration levels.”
Caroline Lecko RGN, Patient Safety Lead at NHS England.

We all know the importance of good hydration during a stay in hospital, however this was not always something that was as easy to do as it should have been for both patients and staff. The traditional NHS patient water jugs were cumbersome and heavy when full of water and made it difficult for the very young or the elderly to use. The lids were not securely attached and often fell off, spilling water. They were also difficult to clean, not going through thermal dishwashers. When cleaned they would crack and cloud making the jugs look unattractive and the water unappetising for patients.

Redesigning the traditional water jug

Back in 2013 NHS Supply Chain working together with Alliance Ltd developed a new water jug. After close consultation with patients, Caroline Lecko Patient Safety Lead at NHS England, and Andy Jones, Chair of HCA, the new jug was brought to market. Now the jugs are used in the vast majority of trusts and the old jugs are hard to remember.

The redesigned jugs make it much easier for patients to be independent and help themselves to a drink of water when they need it. The benefits include:

  • Greater independence for patients: When full they are lighter for patients to lift and pour themselves
  • Encourage use: The jug is tinted blue which gives the impression of fresher, cleaner and colder water
  • Durability: Made from durable and easy to clean plastic they do not cloud or scratch and the lids fit well so do not fall off or break
  • Ease of use: The jug is tilted, making pouring easier and graduations on the handle making it easy to use for both left and right-handed patients
  • Precision: The graduations also act as a measure for patients’ fluid intake.

Colours to signpost danger

Different coloured lids can also be used to highlight patients that are in danger of dehydration. In South Wales six University trainees suggested using a yellow lid to signal patients who need extra monitoring, a great way for staff and carers to recognise who needs extra support to stay hydrated.

Speaking to the BBC¹, third year student nurse Donna Walker said: "A few of our group have worked as health care support workers and although nursing staff make every effort to ensure patients are getting the correct fluids, we all agreed that it can be quite difficult to know which patients are having their fluids monitored on a ward.

"Some patients, for example, may be on fluid restrictions following complications such as heart failure, whilst others might be being encouraged to drink more because they are dehydrated.

"Our idea was to introduce an easy visual cue, which can easily show a nurse or a health care support worker on a busy ward, which patients they should be monitoring for fluids.

"The lids, which can cost as little as 70p each, could also be much cheaper than the cost of treating urinary tract infections or catheterisation, which it has been estimated costs the NHS £500m a year.

If you are interesting in finding out more about how to order a water jug, please contact NHS Supply Chain: Hotel Services

¹ Nurses' yellow jug lid plan to aid patient hydration, BBC.


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