Fluids and the elderly in long-stay rehabilitation

A study of fluid provision and consumption in elderly patients in a long-stay rehabilitation hospital

Gaff et al., JHND Early View


Adequate hydration is key to good clinical care and essential for preventing problems in elderly patients such as constipation, pressure sores and confusion. The present study aimed to evaluate fluid provision and consumption in elderly patients against current standards for Scottish hospitals.


A service evaluation, of fluid provision and consumption over 24 h by elderly orthopaedic rehabilitation patients in a long-stay hospital in Scotland was conducted. Fluids provided and consumed from trolley services, those at meal times and beverages from jugs of water were measured. The average fluid content of a jug, cup and glass on each ward was determined. Each jug of water provided was recorded, as was the acceptance of hot and cold drinks offered. Intake was determined by measuring the leftover water in each jug when these were refreshed and any leftover liquid in patients’ cups deducted from that provided. Observations were made with respect to the presentation and encouragement of fluids.


Fifty-eight patients (12 males, 46 female, aged ≥65 years) were monitored, of whom 56 were provided with more than the recommended minimum fluid per day [mean (SEM) = 2379 (82) mL]; however, mean intake was lower than recommended [mean (SEM) = 1302 (60) mL; P = 0.002]. Provision of drinks from a trolley service [mean (SEM) = 956 (44) mL] was less than fluid from jugs [mean (SEM) = 1398 (54) mL; = 0.002]; however, the consumption of drinks from the trolley was greater [77% consumed, mean (SEM) = 770 (46) mL] than from jugs [41% mean (SEM) = 514 (36) mL; < 0.001].


Patients consumed significantly more fluid from individual beverages than jugs. Consideration of the method of fluid provision is important with respect to influencing fluid intakes.

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