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The Hydrant won the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2013 and provides a simple way for people to drink while allowing health practitioners to monitor fluid intake to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust introduced the device into four community hospitals last year and is one of only three organisations in the country to be awarded £62,500 of additional funding from NHS England to extend the programme to specialist nursing teams in the community.

Health care assistant Mercier Adams, who has helped encourage use of the bottle amongst patients at Vale Community Hospital, said: “We recently had a patient here with multiple sclerosis, and when she first came in she couldn’t move. She couldn’t reach a jug of water or a cup. She was so pleased with the Hydrant because she was still able to drink whenever she liked. It was absolutely ideal for her.

“Some of our older patients can’t lift a jug of water – and if they try to and spill the water it puts them off trying again which makes things worse. With the Hydrant bottle it’s much easier for them and their fluid intake is better.”
Hydration is known to be fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals – particularly the elderly who are susceptible to hydration-related illnesses such as increased confusion, falls, urinary tract infections and pressure ulcers. Good hydration also decreases the risk of infections and the resultant need to use intravenous fluids and antibiotics. NHS England estimates that for every £1 spent on the Hydrant it saves £16.

Cirencester, Dilke, North Cotswolds and Vale community hospitals are using the Hydrant system, which comprises a bottle which clips to the side of beds, chairs or wheelchairs and a long drinking tube to allow easy access to fluids where mobility issues during recovery can make drinking hard. The tube features a bite down valve to prevent leaks, a non-return system for hygiene and a clip to attach to clothing.

Veronica Hourston, clinical quality and development facilitator at the Trust, said: “We have used the Hydrant successfully in hospitals, where it is easy to access patients who can benefit. But people who aren’t drinking at home are going to be your next inpatients.

“So we are looking at ways to use it in the community – for example extending it to our specialist nursing teams and recently launched rapid response teams. We are also looking at people who have had repeated dehydration-related illnesses or hospital admissions so there are a number of avenues to explore.

“Our longer term aim is to be able to send patients home with the Hydrant so that those with medical requirements which reduce mobility can continue to stay hydrated in their own homes.”

The Hydrant is the brainchild of entrepreneur Mark Moran from Hydrate for Health who invented the system after a serious spinal operation left him bed-bound and stationary. His experience of struggling to reach the water jug led him to create this new system so that water should always be easily accessible to aid recovery.

Nutrition and Hydration Week
Nutrition and Hydration weeks runs from March 17-21 and is a collaboration between the Hospital Caterers Association, National Association of Care Catering and Patient Safety First.

The week aims to promote key messages associated with good nutrition and hydration, educate health and social care workers and act as a focal point for sharing good practice.

photo: Mercia Adams, health care assistant at Vale Community Hospital.