Using a digital tool to increase understanding of nutrition and hydration amongst care home staff

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: The Warwick Manufacturing Group


In collaboration with Warwickshire Public Health and the Mental Health and Wellbeing group at WMS, the aim of this PhD is to determine the current barriers to healthy nutrition and hydration behaviours among elderly care home residents, to appraise the effectiveness of current interventions/practices in encouraging positive eating and drinking behaviours, and to develop and pilot a novel intervention based on that learning.
The objectives may include:
Conducting a systematic literature review of the effectiveness of current interventions aimed at impacting on the eating/drinking habits of elderly people in care homes.
Exploratory study investigating staff, residents/family members' views on current issues (including motivators and barriers) in eating and drinking behaviour.
Development of a co-created intervention to address some of the barriers/motivators highlighted
Evaluation of intervention effectiveness
Cost-benefit modelling analysis of intervention impact
It is likely that any intervention will have a technology-based solution (e.g., digitally-delivered skills training intervention for staff). This fits within the EPSRC Healthcare theme.


10 25 50
Description To date, research into the eating behaviours of older adults have focused largely on the biological and physiological, and often the economic changes that occur with age. Eating and mealtimes are more than simply the ingestion of food and intake of calories therefore our investigation focused on what is known about other factors that may influence eating behaviours. An integrated systematic review investigating the psycho-social factors influencing eating behaviour in older adults highlights the importance of early eating experiences on eating outcomes in later life. In particular, the influence of communal eating is influential but further work is needed to determine the impact of specific eating partners at specific meals. In addition, older adults tended to reject confusing health and dietary advice in favour of focusing on other 'healthiness cues' such as presence of disease, weight/thinness, and comparisons to others etc. This has implications for how health and dietary advice are transmitted to older adults.
Exploitation Route This information can be used by future researchers to explore the psycho-social elements of mealtimes for older adults, and how these might improve or hinder eating well in later life. Care Practitioners and policy makers may use this information to support evidence based approaches to mealtimes and food provision for older adults.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy