Dehydration and heat stroke are an issue in remote settings

Dehydration and heat stroke can be a problem for older people living in remote settings

Every year, during the hotter months, a number of older people are evacuated from their homes and / or communities due to complications arising from severe dehydration. The cost, nursing time and stress on the client can be prevented if care staff are monitoring vulnerable clients during this time of year.

It's coming up to that time again and as care providers we need to look at ways of preventing dehydration or heat stroke. It is important that you and your staff are looking out for any clients who might be considered to be at risk or particularly vulnerable.

Who are vulnerable clients?

On remote communities I’ve found that these can include:

  • People with dementia as they often forget to drink or don’t recognise the symptoms of dehydration;
  • People confined to wheelchairs or those whose mobility is impaired and who may be unable to get themselves a drink;
  • People who are incontinent; where they or their carer restrict the amount of fluids they drink to minimise the effects of incontinence;
  • People who don’t feel comfortable in their own family home due to abuse – these people may have to spend most of the day away from their home and may not have access to cups or bottles to get water or have no money to purchase a bottle of water from the store;
  • People with medical problems such as diabetes, heart conditions and high blood pressure.

5 Ways of preventing dehydration in vulnerable clients?

  1. Delivering water with breakfast and lunch goes a long way to ensuring that clients have some fluid during the day;
  2. Consider half-filling and freezing large containers such as an empty two litre milk or juice bottle with water, top up with cold tap water before dropping off with breakfast – having cold water might encourage the client to drink more;
  3. Suggest to the client that they come to the aged care centre where possible on hot days for a few hours and ensure they have tea and water while they are there;
  4. Talk with family carers and educate them on their responsibilities in providing water or tea to the client throughout the day – after all, this is a partnership of care and the aged care service can’t do it all;
  5. Monitor vulnerable clients throughout the day on particularly hot days. Consider adding this to the client’s care plan as a service over the summer period.
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