Why Is It Important To Weigh Care Home Residents Accurately & Regularly?
Weighing is fundamentally important in a care home. A resident’s weight can be the first, and sometimes, the only indication of poor health. In fact, it’s so critical, that the weight of the resident is one of the first things they will be asked for following their admission. Malnutrition affects around a 33% of care home residents, and a low or decreasing body weight can be one of the clearest symptoms. Many care home residents also work one-to-one with dieticians, with a resident’s weight playing a key role in the advice provided. As a result, you can see the importance of getting accurate weights for your residents.
Malnutrition affects 10% of people aged 65+. In care homes this figure is between 30% and 42% of residents. This is a very serious condition where the body does not receive or carry enough nutrients. Consequences of malnutrition can include depression, hypothermia, cancers and even death. Care home weighing is crucial in part because of the clear link between weight and malnutrition. The NHS lists ‘low body weight’ and ‘unintentional weight loss’ as the two most obvious symptoms of malnutrition
Symptoms of Malnutrition
From NHS Website:
- Unintentional weight loss (5-10% weight loss in a 3-6 month period)
- Low body weight (BMI below 18.5)
- Lack of interest in eating and drinking (reduced appetite)
- Excessive tiredness
- Feeling weaker
- Getting ill regularly with a longer recovery time
- Poor concentration
- Wounds taking longer to heal
- Low mood or depression
- Feeling the cold more
How Often Should They Be Weighed?
The resident’s weight should be taken on their admission to the care home, so in future, readings are easy to compare. After this, it really depends on the resident. For example, if there is a concern with how much fluid a resident is taking in then daily weight measurements should be taken. An underweight or overweight resident may need weighing weekly to keep a close eye on any changes for their dietician. A resident who is well and has a good appetite may just be weighed monthly.
How Should The Residents Be Weighed?
Consistency is key when weighing:
- Always weigh on the same scale rather than alternating between chair, handrail, bed, hoist scale etc.
- Leave the same amount of time between readings (e.g., weekly/monthly)
- Weigh at the same time of day (e.g., before or after breakfast)
- Chair Scales are one of the easiest weighing methods as many residents may not be able to stand up for long.
- Residents should be weighed in light clothing (bed clothes for example) TARE should be used to take away the clothing weight.
- The scale should be receiving regular calibration/accuracy tests.
- Residents should be weighed by a member of staff who is trained in operating the scale.
- For auditing purposes, a senior member of staff should overlook the process.
- A computer should be used to input the weight readings to avoid human error.
Why Is Scale Accuracy Important?
Within the medical sector it is very important to have accurate and reliable medical equipment, a patient/resident’s life could depend on it, especially where malnutrition and medications are involved. The scales should be Class III Approved (this means they are reliable and provide repeatability when weighing) read more about that here. To keep care home weighing scales accurate, you should have them tested regularly by a qualified service engineer, every 6-12 months, this is something Solent Scales can offer if you’re in our catchment area.
In conclusion, care home residents should be weighed on their admission and regularly thereafter depending on their needs and dietician’s recommendations, but monthly as a minimum. A Class III Approved scale should be used to do this and a scale that is easy for the resident such as a chair scale or handrail scale.