Dehydration is a concern for older people due to the potential adverse effects on function and clinical outcome; common complications include constipation, pressure ulcers, urinary tract infections, and dizziness leading to falls and fractures.
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Hydration in older people is a complex problem:
- physiological age-related changes in the body systems will naturally leave an older person more susceptible to dehydration
- it is not uncommon for individuals to suffer with health issues or to take medications which restrict the ability or desire to drink fluid
- there is also a social and psychological component which may reduce motivation to drink through loneliness or fear over frequency and continence issues.
Droplet Smart Mugs became one of the National Innovation Accelerator (NIA) supported products in 2019/20. Since this product strongly supports Wessex AHSN’s work on hydration in care homes and of older people living at home, the Healthy Ageing Programme has worked closely with Spearmark Health (Droplet’s manufacturer) to:
- define the care home and primary care marketplace for Droplet and design further evaluation required to support the wider adoption and spread. This has included introductions to local health and social care commissioners.
- Inclusion of Droplet in our Hydration at Home project, and in a project run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Frailty Practitioners in several different care settings, including community hospital wards and care homes. This will help provide evidence and case studies to support further spread of Droplet.
- Signposting of Droplet to organisations and frontline workers from the health and care arenas. This has resulted in significant interest and excitement regarding the potential of the product.
Wessex AHSN has been extremely supporting to helping gather evidence and introduce Droplet across the region. I have asked for help with contacts across CCGs, local councils and hospitals and these have been made for me. The team has been instrumental in helping set up a key pilot with Southern Health involving hospitals and care homes as well as leading an evaluation on domiciliary care. All of these elements will help scale our hydration device across the region and ultimately across England. I have regular contact with multiple people across different functions and everyone gives me the support and insight I need including huge help with NHS Supply Chain with getting us onto a relevant framework. I couldn’t ask for more!
- Martin Withers, Group Commercial Directior, Spearmark Health
How did the Innovation Exchange help?
The Healthy Ageing Team ran a six-month pilot project to improve hydration in 17 Hampshire County Council Care Homes. Working with Spearmark Health, the Healthy Ageing Team supported the utilisation of Droplet Smart Mugs which prompted users to drink to maintain good hydration. This helped reduce dehydration and promoted Spearmark Health’s products which led to further collaboration and sales.
Impact & Outcomes
This is still work in progress. Early impact includes:
- Local purchasing of 300 Droplet devices for use as part of hydration projects linked to the Healthy Ageing programme
- Support in understanding the market place, and data required to support wider spread. Future evaluation of local projects to inform wider spread
- Significant interest shown by organisations across Wessex, some of whom have already purchased the device to use (total not know), e.g. Hampshire Hospitals on their MOP wards