The Government today launched the first ever nutrition action plan aimed at tackling malnutrition amongst care home residents.
Produced in conjunction with 25 stakeholders, including social care providers, Government associations and the medical profession, it outlines a range of actions to make sure the nutritional needs of older people in care homes and hospitals are better met.
Priorities listed in the plan include raising the awareness of the link between good nutrition and good health; availability of suitable guidance for all; weighing and monitoring residents on admission and strengthening of inspection standards.
Health minister Ivan Lewis said: "Weight loss is sometimes wrongly explained away as being due to illness when in reality it is because of a failure to put nutrition at the heart of peoples care. This neglect and poor practice cannot be tolerated."
Gordon Lishman, director general of chair Age Concern will chair the action plan delivery board to see the measures proposed are implemented.
Sue Ullmann, head of the National Association of Care Catering, said: "There is a willingness to support the Action Plan and we believe that working together it will make a difference to the lives and dignity of the older people of our communities."
Ullmann added that the NACC looked forward to the development of mandatory training for all professionals involved in the care catering sector including front line managers, promised in the plan.
The knock-on effect of malnutrition, such as longer hospital stays and extra treatment, is estimated to cost the UK £7.3b each year.
As many as 60,000 of the 441,067 adults in care are believed to be malnourished, according to Liberal Democrat figures.
By Chris Druce