At the height of summer, hydration is paramount to remaining healthy and keeping cool. Not only can it help the healing process for hospital residents and prevent falls for the older generation, it helps children and adults alike remain mentally alert. No matter whether you are young, old or anywhere in between, we all need to hydrate – but it can be challenging.

Whether you operate a care home, school or café, water should always be readily available, be it served by the glass, in jugs, bottles or a water fountain. However, with so many of us now attuned to the transmission of germs, communal water coolers and dispensers are viewed with suspicion, especially in public places. The internal battle that rages between reducing single use plastics and preventing the spread of viruses in such instances can be problematic. The good news is that hydration stations are now available to meet the specific hygiene requirements of medical establishments, and are easier to sanitise – a boon for schools and care homes. “Water Dispenser and Hydration Association (WHA) members can provide guidance on the best hydration systems to a variety of organisations ensuring that they can meet their legal requirements for providing easy access to water in the most suitable and sustainable way.” Says Phillipa Atkinson-Clow, general manager, WHA.

Despite the benefits of water, it is not always the most exciting beverage. Adding flavour with fresh lemon or cucumber slices, mint, berries or a squash concentrate certainly makes it more appealing, but there are many other ways to keep your guests hydrated and cool during the summer months.


When it’s warm outside traditional tea and coffee doesn’t always cut it and occasionally you want something a little more exciting than water. Drinks that are colourful, served in different shaped glasses and decorated are both visually stimulating and appealing. Using fresh fruit juice for mocktails and cocktails delivers both sweetness, flavour and variety to your beverage menu. Layer ruby red cranberry juice with orange juice to create a sunset in a glass or go truly tropical with passionfruit and mango flavours. “Another option is to combine Cracker’s Pineapple and Orange juice with a handful of fresh mint leaves to create a Pineapple Martini Mocktail – the perfect refreshing summer taste,” comments Christopher Banks, Cracker Drinks.

Taking the chill-factor up a notch, milkshakes are also proving popular, made with ice cream or milk blended with ice. The infamous McDonalds milkshakes of our childhood, made so thick they were impossible to drink, have been superseded by lighter options which can also be found on an alcoholic drinks menu. “Incredibly easy to make, our Shmoo milkshakes can be ready in seconds – perfect for a busy bar with everyone clamouring for a chilled drink,” notes Karen Green, Marketing Manager, Aimia Foods. “Watch as those with an appetite for a summer evening drink start asking for mixes of the likes of Amaretto and Vodka to be added to their favourite Shmoo.”


Our bodies typically get 20% of the water we need from the food we eat every day, so its just as important to offer meals featuring high water content ingredients as well as a refreshing beverage menu. Dishes such as a watermelon quinoa kale salad, chocolate courgette smoothie bowl or lettuce wraps are all great contributors to keep us refreshed during the hot summer months.


The school holidays are an exciting time for children, with plenty of activities to keep them entertained, but all that exertion makes them hot and thirsty. To amplify the summer fun and capitalise on their desire to mimic adults, try introducing drinks that look a little more grown-up, but also deliver vital nutrients. Fresh fruit smoothies, watermelon lemonade, bubble tea or unicorn hot chocolate made with white chocolate, milk and a little food colouring gel are just a few ways to refresh your menu and offer a variety of drinks at different price points.


Worryingly, a UK study revealed that only 52% of care home residents were well hydrated, with one in 5 dehydrated and a further 28% close to dehydration1. As we get older, our ability to recognise when we are thirsty deteriorates, increasing our susceptibility to dehydration. “Fortified soups can be a strong addition for the drinks trolley, giving residents additional vitamins A and D in short bursts across the day,” advises Alex Whitehouse, CEO, Premier Foods. “We were the first to the foodservice market with Batchelors’ dried soups fortified with vitamins A and D to help caterers serve two key nutrients to residents in a consistent and easy way. This soup can be enjoyed between meals, helping residents meet their hydration needs.”

Hydration stations in care environments are critical, but these don’t need to be limited to beverages. High water content fruit and vegetables, jellies or a mobile station delivering ice lollies and ice cream work just as well. “At The Royal Alfred, we offer hydration stations in all of the common spaces to ensure residents remain hydrated throughout the day,” comments Matt Goodman, Catering Manager at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society. “Of course, our team keeps a close eye on residents’ fluid consumption, but the stations also allow residents to help themselves to beverages and snacks that can prevent dehydration.”

“We also prepare a range of different flavoured smoothies using seasonal fruits and vegetables for residents to choose from. We like to fortify these with natural yoghurt and cream so we can boost the calorie content where it’s necessary for people with small appetites. The Society also has an onsite bar where residents can enjoy socialising with a variety of hot and cold drinks available. I’ve found having a social environment will always help benefit and improve our resident’s nutritional and hydration intake.”


Caterers operating at events and festivals this summer often see first hand how easy it is to become dehydrated. Long days full of entertainment, dancing and crowded environments can make it difficult to maintain the levels of water our bodies need, especially in hot weather. Quick grab-and-go high water-content food, and offering beverages in volumes that can easily be decanted into a 330ml water bottle for those bringing their own containers, will go a long way to keep your customers cool.

Electrolytes also help counteract fluid loss and contribute to maintaining the required sodium levels in our blood. Electrolytes are naturally found in fruit and vegetables, but sports drinks or energy drinks are also a good source. Rather than opting for pre-made drinks, try making your own to stand out in the crowd using coconut water or green tea as your base, adding ingredients such as fresh lemon, mint, honey, ginger, Himalayan pink salt and grapefruit oil to create a unique, branded beverage.