Nutrition & Hydration Week 2024

What is Nutrition and Hydration Week?

This year, Nutrition and Hydration Week will be from the 11th-17th March 2024 and it aims to raise awareness and educate people on the value of food and drink in maintaining health and well-being.

Now in its 12th year, it was originally aimed at the health and social care sector, but now people from all different organisations are joining in on the fun.

The mission (should you choose to accept it, which we hope you do!) of Nutrition and Hydration week is:

‘To create a global movement that will focus energy, activity and engagement on nutrition and hydration as a fundamental element of maintaining health and well-being for our global community.’ 

With tighter budget constraints making the public health environment increasingly challenging, Nutrition and Hydration Week is one of the most cost-effective health interventions possible.

So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about Nutrition and Hydration Week 2024 and how you can get involved!

Why is good nutrition and hydration important?

Malnutrition and dehydration are a big concern in health and social care services and are more common than you might expect.

Around 1 in 3[1] patients who are admitted to hospital or care homes are either malnourished or at risk of becoming so.

These are rather worrying statistics, but what is even more concerning is the result of these statistics.

Poor nutrition and dehydration can harm patients’ health and wellbeing, as well as reducing their ability to recover from illness, which leads to increased admissions or longer stays in hospitals and care homes. In turn, this increases the struggles and pressures they’re already facing.

Good nutrition and hydration aren’t just essential for patients and service users of healthcare services; we can all benefit from fuelling our bodies with nutritious food and ensuring we are suitably hydrated throughout the day.

Life is busy, even more so if you work in the healthcare sector, and it can often be difficult to find time to prepare healthy meals and drink plenty of water.

Be honest, how many of us have lunch ‘al desko’, with a sandwich in one hand and paperwork in the other or throwing a ready-meal in the microwave when we return from work because we are too tired to make a meal from scratch?

Use this week to not only assess and improve the quality of nutrition and hydration that is provided to both healthcare patients and service users and also yourself, to help reduce avoidable stays in hospital and improve overall health and wellbeing.

What are the aims of Nutrition and Hydration Week?

This awareness week promotes the following principles to create or improve nutrition and hydration practices in your organisation:

The 10 key characteristics of good nutritional care

  1. Screen all patients and service users to identify malnourishment or risk of malnourishment and ensure actions are progressed and monitored
  2. Create a personal care/support plan with each patient/service user to enable them to have choice and control over their nutritional care and fluid needs
  1. Care providers should include specific guidance on food and beverage services and other nutritional & hydration care in their service delivery and accountability arrangements
  1. People using care services are involved in the planning and monitoring arrangements for food service and drinks provision
  1. Food and drinks should be provided alone or with assistance in an environment conducive to patients being able to consume their food (protected mealtimes)
  1. All healthcare professionals and volunteers receive regular training to ensure they have the skills, qualifications and competencies needed to meet the nutritional and fluid requirements of people using their services
  1. Facilities and services providing nutrition and hydration are designed to be flexible and centred on the needs of the people using them, 24 hours a day, every day
  1. All care providers to have a nutrition and hydration policy centred on the needs of users and are performance managed in line with local governance, national standards and regulatory frameworks
  1. Food, drinks and other nutritional care are delivered safely
  1. Care providers should take a multi-disciplinary approach to nutrition and hydration care, valuing the contribution of all staff, people using the service, carers and volunteers working in partnership

Protected mealtimes

Protected mealtimes ensure that patients have a dedicated mealtime that is free from as many interruptions as possible.

All non-essential activities stop on wards to protect patients from avoidable interruptions and care staff and nurses are available to serve food and provide assistance to patients who may need it.

It has been found that patients eat better and recover quicker in hospitals that implement protected mealtimes.

Red trays, jugs and beakers are used to notify staff that some patients may require additional support or assistance when eating or drinking, to ensure that all patients receive the correct amount of nutrition and hydration regardless of mobility.

Mealtimes that are free from distraction create a more relaxed atmosphere, which gives patients time to socialise and digest their food.

  • Nutrition advocates for each health or social care setting who ensures the organisation is providing the best nutrition and hydration provision possible
  • The minimum standards for good nutrition in the respective settings
  • Highlighting good nutrition and hydration practices 
  • Continued education for professionals on good nutrition and hydration 
  • Taking part in the Global Tea Party event

Why should your organisation take part?

So, what’s in it for you and your organisation?

Firstly, taking part in the number one worldwide awareness event can further engage people with your organisation and help to educate you, your team and your patients/service users/customers on the benefits of good nutrition and hydration.

You can sign the Nutrition and Hydration Week Charter and complete the Nutrition and Hydration Week Continued Education Record to demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to providing good nutritional care.

Did we also mention there is a tea party involved?

Planning your Nutrition and Hydration Week

Planning your Nutrition and Hydration Week may seem like a daunting task at first, but these simple steps will make it as easy as (a healthy and nutritious) pie.

Choose a clear aim

Choose one specific goal that you hope to achieve by the end of the week. It could be to highlight your good practices to the public or raise awareness and educate.

Define who your audience is

Customers? Residents? Your team? Other professionals? Tailor your plan to meet their needs.

Set up a small team

Organising a group of people to help plan and deliver the week’s activities will help to spread the workload and take the pressure off.

Organising resources and equipment

Whether it’s ingredients for tasting sessions, worksheets, tables and chairs, make sure you’ve organised the resources you need in advance to avoid stress during your Nutrition and Hydration Week.


There’s no point putting in all this hard work if no one knows about it. Use your organisation’s social media. 

If you have a PR or communications team, ask them to do a press release. Stand on a big box in the middle of your town centre and shout about it! Ok, maybe don’t go that far, but you get the idea…

  • Use of frozen healthy meals and snacks if food preparation is tiring
  • Food fortification (adding extra nutrients to foods)

Daily themes

Use the ideas below to plan activities based around a theme for each day or create your own themes!

  • Big Breakfast Monday
  • Snacky Tuesday
  • Wednesday - Global Tea Party
  • Fruity Friday
  • Smoothie Saturday
  • Sundae Sunday

The Global Tea Party

The highlight of Nutrition and Hydration Week is the tea party in your organisation to show your commitment to nutritional care, help people to improve nutritional intake and enjoy yourselves whilst educating on the importance of good nutrition.

Bring along some healthy snacks and raise your mug for good nutrition!

Food and drink tasting

Have a budding Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver in your organisation? Why not organise a tasting session of healthy, delicious food? Even better, why not organise a demonstration of how to cook simple, healthy food that people can recreate at home?

Dressing up

Nothing raises awareness like fancy dress - it’s hard to ignore! 

Why not have a fancy-dress day as part of your Nutrition and Hydration Week activities? Whether you come dressed as an apple or a bottle of orange juice, it’ll be sure to turn heads and hopefully remind someone to grab one of their 5-a-day!

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 05 March 2024
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