By Simon Gabe, BAPEN President 

Good nutrition and hydration care should be recognised as being a fundamental core component of providing safe and effective care in all settings. 

As healthy eating is quickly becoming a societal mainstay, the foodservice industry is adapting to the needs of the nation. Whilst it is important to make these, it’s also essential for those in the industry to consider the impact of their services on the burden of malnutrition in the UK. 

The foodservice industry provides its services in so many different settings reaching every corner of the country. It’s important that caterers working in care homes and hospitals, as well as those providing meals-on-wheels services are aware of the essential role they play in ensuring the food they prepare meets the nutritional needs of its recipients and preventing malnutrition in the elderly. 

The organisation works with its members and key national partners to ensure that all individuals who are malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition, in any healthcare or social setting are identified early through screening and subsequently receive the right management. 

BAPEN is a charitable association that raises awareness of malnutrition and works to advance the nutritional care of patients and those at risk of malnutrition in the wider community. 

The BAPEN 5-year UK strategy outlines the organisation’s approach to achieving its vision of every individual receiving safe, timely and appropriate nutritional care in every care setting, every day. The strategy covers the steps BAPEN is taking to raise awareness of malnutrition, its causes and consequences, by working with a number of other professional organisations, charities, governmental bodies and commissioning boards with the aim of making malnutrition a priority, with patients at the centre of nutritional care. 

A key focus of BAPEN’s five-year strategy is nationwide nutritional screening in hospitals and within the community. This is driven by the implementation of screening using the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’) framework. Those who are involved in catering for care homes and hospitals can work with clinical and dietetic staff to draw up a nutritional care plan for all patients or care home residents, starting with screening for malnutrition risk, for example using the ‘MUST’ tool. Food and catering staff can also ensure that the food they serve not only looks and tastes appealing, but also that the nutritional content is appropriate for each patient’s needs. A good resource for those who provide food and beverage services is The British Dietetic Association (BDA) report, The Nutrition and Hydration Digest: Improving outcomes through food and beverage services, available at 

It is important to remember: It is not always obvious who is malnourished, or who is at risk of malnutrition. Whilst clinical and dietetic staff should always be on hand to ensure patients and other vulnerable are managed correctly, caterers play an important role in working with them to improve standards and the nutritional health of those who need it.