Sipping Joy: ‘Milkshake Project’ Improves Health and Wellbeing of Care Home Residents

13th March 2023
Left to Right: Dietitian, Emma Boyd, Nurse, Ruby Kennedy, Chef, Dawn Crowe, Student Nurse, Courtney Fitzpatrick, Dietitian, Sarah Russell, Dietitian, Niamh McCahon.

“We have noticed that the people in our care are thriving since starting the new programme, one particular gentleman’s family have had to buy him new clothes due to his weight gain, he seems to really enjoy the new drinks and we are delighted with his progress over the past few months.” Comments from a residential care home staff member who has noted improvements in their clients health after the introduction of a new fortified drinks initiative into 50 care homes in the South Eastern HSC Trust area.

The ‘Milkshake Project’ is a unique enterprise and offers residents a fortified milk based drink, made with fresh ingredients on the premises as an alternative to their usual prescribed oral nutritional supplement drinks in an effort to reduce taste fatigue, prevent wastage and lower costs.

The Advanced Practice Care Home Dietitian working within the Allied Health Professional team has established a partnership working arrangement with the care home staff, giving them ownership and a voice in the process to ensure the best outcomes for the people that they care for. Although there is an initial cost for the fresh ingredients the new drinks are costing on average 0.24p per 200ml serving compared to £1.30 per 200ml bottle for the prescribed oral nutritional supplement drinks.

The first 37 care homes who tool part in the scheme have made savings in and around £57,436, within their first 3 months of operation. It is anticipated that if the scheme is expanded to all 52 Care homes within in the South Eastern HSC Trust area, savings in the region of £321,645 will be made annually.

Community Nutrition Support Team Dietitian Emma Boyd explained, “Many of the residents view the fortified drinks as a treat rather than a burden. They enjoy them as they are cold, refreshing and offered in a variety of flavours, this definitely aids compliance and fluid intake as they can often refuse supplements at room temperature.”

Beechvale Care Home Manager Kathie Walker added, “I am delighted to report that the fortified drinks project has been a resounding success. Our residents have greatly benefited from the addition of these drinks to their dietary plans, and we have seen noticeable improvements in their overall health and wellbeing.

“The project has been a valuable addition to our care strategies, we are grateful to the Dietitian and their team for their expertise and support. I would also like to add that the fortified drinks project has had the added benefit of reducing the number of residents who require supplements, which has simplified the management of our medication processes.

“Overall, we are very pleased with the positive impact that this project has had on our residents’ health and quality of life.”