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Added: 11th December 2013

Nutrition Hydration week 2014 logo

Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014 (17-23 March 2014) will see nationwide action across social and health care settings to raise awareness and improve understanding of the vital importance of good nutrition and hydration – an initiative that is attracting worldwide support and praise.

The focal national event and highlight of the week will be a Worldwide Afternoon Tea on Wednesday 19 March. Service providers in both health and social care settings are invited to share Afternoon Tea with those entrusted to their care, no matter where they care for them, demonstrating a united effort and commitment to improving nutrition and hydration.

Supporters of Nutrition & Hydration Week in other countries have been invited to join the party, making it a truly global event. Supporters include the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals, USA, the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management, the Institute of Hospitality in Healthcare, Australia, the Spanish Association of Hospital Hospitality, the Norwegian Dietetic Association and Healthcare Caterers International, to name a few.*¹

The three leading organisations of Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014 – Patient Safety First (PSF), Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and National Association of Care Catering (NACC) – are urging social and health care providers to serve afternoon tea to service users and visitors where appropriate.

Afternoon Tea has been chosen as a key focal point of the Week to demonstrate how this simple meal occasion is ideal for promoting and improving nutrition and hydration. As well as offering a number of nutritional benefits, it can also be easily adapted to a wide variety of social and health care settings. For example, it can take place in care homes, on community meals rounds, in day care settings, at Luncheon Clubs, during community support worker visits, and within NHS settings such as on hospital wards, cafés and day rooms.

From a nutrition and hydration perspective, Afternoon Tea clearly supports the ‘three meals and two snacks a day’ message, it will help with boosting calorific intake if required, and it can be adapted for all groups, including those with specific dietary needs, texture modification and eating problems.

On top of this, Afternoon Tea also serves a vital social and emotional role that is necessary for overall wellbeing. It enables those in social and health care settings, who may otherwise be isolated, to interact with staff, visitors, and fellow residents, service users or patients.

Caroline Lecko, Patient Safety lead for NHS England commented: “We are keen to engage everyone, no matter where they care for someone, in providing an afternoon tea on Wednesday 19 March. It is important that carers remember that nutritional intake takes place outside the three main meals of the day, and we see the concept of an afternoon tea focusing our message on this key aspect of nutritional care.”

Neel Radia NACC Chair added: “Everybody focuses on mealtimes when it comes to nutrition and hydration, but a little food and often is the key for older people. The message of three meals and two snacks a day is embraced by focusing on a food event outside of a main meal time. Afternoon tea is ideal as it does fit into every care situation, be it in residential homes, day care, or in the community through meal services and community support. It also adds an important social dimension for service users. We urge everyone to get involved, even if afternoon tea is only shared with one person.”

Andy Jones HCA Chair stated: “We are keen to encourage NHS-wide adoption of protected mealtimes*² for breakfast, lunch and dinner in order for patients to be able to eat without interruption but there are times outside of these occasions when food can be served and shared with others. Afternoon tea is a great example for hospitals. It is an opportunity for patients to share the experience of eating with family and friends. After all teatime is a social event and often relatives and friends are key to improving morale, increasing a sense of wellbeing and as a result, boosting appetite for recovering patients”.

The aim of the Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014 is to illustrate how, by making changes to eating and drinking habits, people can improve their quality of life. The campaign will benefit professionals and staff within social and healthcare settings by showing them the preventative role they can play in catalysing a reduction in malnutrition-related illnesses that often require complex treatments, prolong recovery periods, delay hospital discharges and increase NHS costs.

Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014 will focus on positive action. It will provide vital advice and guidance to health and social professionals on the action that can be taken to help prevent under-nutrition and dehydration and help relieve the stress both is placing stress on health and social care services.

As well as participating in Afternoon Tea on Wednesday 19 March, the week will afford service providers the perfect platform to put on their own activities and events to further highlight the absolute need for good nutrition and hydration, and promote the good work they are doing.

Information, advice, event ideas, downloadable posters, leaflet and logos are available from

For more information:

Berenice Pretlove, NACC Media Liaison: 0870 7480 180 / 

Hazel Green, HCA Press Office: 01932 253184/07950 007 169 /

Notes to editors:

*¹ Supporters of Nutrition & Hydration Week 2014 to date:

  • Associação Portuguesa Hotelaria Hospitalar – Portugal

  • Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals – USA

  • British Dietetic Association - UK

  • Canadian Society of Nutrition Management – Canada 

  • Catering Management Association of Ireland – Republic of Ireland

  • Healthcare Caterers International – Worldwide 

  • Hospital Caterers Association – UK 

  • Hospitality Management Nederland – Holland

  • Institute of Hospitality in Healthcare – Australia

  • National Association of Care Catering – UK

  • National Nutrition Nurses Group - UK

  • Norwegian Dietetic Association – Norway

  • Ontario Society of Nutrition Management – Canada 

  • Patient Safety First (NHS England) - UK

  • Spanish Association of Hospital Hospitality – Spain

  • Swedish Association of Dietitians – Sweden

  • The Scottish Government – Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing

*² Protected Meal Times

Food is the best and simplest form of medicine and it should be central to every patient’s recovery plan. Good nutritional care helps to improve wellbeing, increase recovery rates and accelerate discharge. To ensure patients receive sufficient nourishment and hydration, they should be allowed the opportunity to consume their food and drinks at core meal times without unnecessary interruption and, where required, be given assistance to eat. Many NHS hospitals have already adopted a Protected Meal Times policy on some of their wards to ensure patients can eat their meals in peace. Where patient meal times are protected, patients do better. The HCA has, therefore, been campaigning for the Government to make Protected Meal Times mandatory on all wards in all NHS hospitals nationwide.

The Nutrition & Hydration Week will keenly promote the following:

  • The 10 Key Characteristics for Good Nutritional Care

  • Protected mealtimes

  • Further embedding of Nutrition Advocates for each health or social care setting 

  • The minimum standards for good nutrition in the respective settings

  • Highlighting good nutrition practices

  • Highlighting good hydration practices

  • Continued education of professionals on good nutrition and hydration.

About the National Association of Care Catering (NACC)

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) is a progressive organisation representing professionals providing catering to the care industry. It is recognised by Local Authorities, independent providers, the charitable sector and Government departments as a prime source of information and opinion on all aspects of catering within the care sector, and whose primary aim is to improve standards.

The NACC works with a number of partners to:

  • To promote and enrich the standard of catering within the care sector, whether that catering be provided by Social Care Departments or other Caring Agencies

  • To provide a forum for debate among individuals, companies and organisations of all kinds involved in catering for the care sector 

  • To facilitate the exchange of information, experience and expertise

  • To promote the development of professional standards among those involved in catering for the care sector

  • To commission research into matters relating to catering for the care sector

  • To publish guidelines, policy papers and authoritative statements on all aspects of catering for the care sector

About the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA)

Founded over 60 years ago, the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) was one of the first professional associations to be formed within the National Health Service. It represents almost 400 senior health care catering managers and dietitians who provide a wide range of food services for patients, visitors and staff in NHS hospitals and health care facilities nationwide. With over 250 NHS hospitals represented in its membership and 17 HCA branches throughout the UK, the HCA network is the single largest group of health care catering providers within the NHS.

With over 300 million meals served every year and around £500 million spent on food annually by around 300 NHS Trust across approximately 1200 hospitals, the NHS is the UK catering industry’s largest provider of meals. The HCA’s network of members is responsible for the jobs of 35,000 people, 80% of which are hospital chefs and kitchen based staff. Amongst its Associate membership are over 100 suppliers who are responsible for the provision of millions of pounds worth of food, beverages, services and equipment to the hospital catering sector.

About Patient Safety First

The Department of Health’s 2006 review of Patient Safety in England, Safety First, identified that while there was a great deal of awareness, sustained change in patient safety continued to be a challenge. Consequently, a recommendation of Safety First was to set up a campaign for the NHS in England to promote and support the implementation of interventions that were known to improve the safety of patient care. This led to the design and delivery of Patient Safety First.

Patient Safety First’s cause is to make patient safety a top priority and to create a mindset of ‘no avoidable death and no avoidable harm’. The campaign ethos was, ‘by the service, for the service’, i.e. frontline NHS staff both the face of the campaign and leading locally driven change.