This week here in Leeds is Hydration Week June 13th – 19th– are you ready to take up the challenge?
With the summer months ahead of us we can be sure that extreme temperatures will occur or even the occasional hot spell This year’s Hydration Week focuses our attention on the importance of keeping hydrated and cool. The average adult body is made up of over 60% water? Water is vital to life and our health so keeping hydrated is one of a few essential steps to a long and healthy life. Water boosts our metabolism, it can help with fatigue, to fight illnesses as it improves our circulation and carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells. It is used to build every cell in your body. But……. are you drinking enough?
Derek Johnson, Principal Catering Manager at Leeds City Council tells us more.
Over the past few years there has been a big focus on promoting fluid intake and how much should be consumed which is about six–eight (200mls) drinks per day. However, all these messages are aimed at the service user, patient or customer, not the person delivering the key message.
So, dear Reader, perhaps in your role as a manager or educator, do you literally drink the talk? I do, and take a lot of stick about my tea drinking habit, especially at work. I am never known to pass up that great British favourite, a cuppa. And why not as I aim to consume eight drinks a day.
If you do the simple maths, that’s roughly a drink every two hours. I work 9 hour days so that’s at least 4 if not 5cuppas at work if you add my commuting time, added to the one at breakfast, the one with my tea and then one later in the evening that’s my 8 drinks per day. How can I really tell, educate or introduce good hydration habits if I’m not doing it myself?
If you work in health or social care, your staff may be completing charts for the people they look after to monitor their drinks, plus encouraging and pushing hydration at key times including after providing care during the day. But, how do these vital staff, access their own hydration at work? Is it at regular break times only? Are they allowed to have drinks with them as they deliver their care? Are they remote working where access to drinks and other facilities (toilets to you and me) are not readily available?
Are you in fact neglecting your staff by not enabling them to have access to drinks to help their own fluid intake? It was interesting to see many organisations during Nutrition and Hydration week focus on staff wellbeing and this included many from outside the health and social care sectors who have identified this easy fix to improve their staff’s own welfare at work. Let them have access to a drink at work!
The health benefits to you as an employer are boundless – better concentration and healthier staff as fluids are vital to the body, the World Health Organization – Water Sanitation and Health (WSH) state:
“Water is a basic nutrient of the human body and is critical to human life” So you can’t argue with that.
Okay I know tea isn’t as good as water but hey I have to have some vices! When you work with older people you get to know their favourite drinks and many do prefer tea and coffee over water, so ensuring they, and you, drink more of their favourite rather than not drinking at all is vital. Along with tea and water, milk and milky drinks especially later in the evening, tea, coffee, squash, soups, smoothies and fruit juice can all contribute significantly to improving fluid intake.
For yourself or staff, encourage those fluids listed above why not take some time to visit the Keep Properly Hydrated page and watch the entertaining but informative “Good Hydration” play by the Feeling Good Theatre Company.
Remember too that your staff work in warm environments, so good fluid intake should be encouraged year round and not just during hot spells. In fact in hot spells fluid intake will need to be increased. Here are some additional tips from Public Health England to help keep you and your service users hydrated and cool in hot weather.
- stay out of the heat especially between 11am and 3pm
- cool yourself down by having plenty of cold drinks and eat foods with high water content
- consider using blinds to shade your place of work
- think of colleagues and offer a drink when you are making one
Do your staff teams have access to enough fluid during their day and can they access it when they are thirsty? Remember thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration.
So that’s the challenge this Dehydration Awareness Week to encourage everyone – staff and service users to start creating their good habits now.
Hopefully you’ve had a drink whilst you were reading this. If not, pop and get one and encourage your staff to have more fluids and to promote drinks to those they care for.
More tea, anyone?