Rebecca Thomas, Karen Morgan and Sarah Davies
Cwm Taf University Health Board and industry partner, Spearmark
This Bevan Exemplar project introduced innovative talking mugs to wards and care homes to remind vulnerable people to drink water in a Wales-first trial.
Extensive evidence demonstrates the health benefits of good hydration. Dehydration, secondary to inadequate fluid intake, contributes to significant ill health and deaths among patients and is therefore a major safety concern.
Mild dehydration can contribute to confusion, falls, pressure ulcers and urine infections. Serious dehydrations can cause a person’s condition to deteriorate rapidly, and can lead to acute kidney injury and even result in death. In addition, you cannot underestimate the human cost caused by such harm for patients and carers.
Through the power of social media, the project lead discovered that a smart hydration system – Droplet – was being tested in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton and that this trial had demonstrated that patients drank more with the use of the Droplet mug or tumbler.
Droplet is the world’s first talking hydration aid – a programmable tool consisting of a base and mug (or tumbler) that will talk to patients if they are not drinking enough, and will also alert health and care professionals. The Droplet mug or tumbler is also designed to help people who are coping with tremors or swallowing problems.
The aim of the project was to undertake a trial using the Droplet Hydration System on 4 wards in Cwm Taf University Health Board and in one care home. Cwm Taf would be the first Health Board or Trust in Wales to trial this system and would be at the forefront of further developing this innovative idea with the area for the benefit of local communities.
The key challenges were securing money to purchase the product and protecting staff time to undertake the testing. The project lead was fortunate enough to discover that there was an opportunity for some funding through the Health Board’s Innovation Fund, so they applied and the project was successful. The lead was so excited by the product and was very keen to do the testing for herself. However it soon became apparent that it would never happen unless she engaged her team in the whole process!
Initial testing of the Droplet Hydration System has demonstrated an increase of 1000 ml in oral fluid intake on average. This equates to approximately 4 glasses of water/fluid.
Improved hydration has been linked to a demonstrable decrease in average length of stay for patients and a decrease in hospital-acquired infections, such as wound and urinary tract infections.
The next steps for this project is to engage with a care home and test the Droplet product there. In addition, the project lead presented the product to a group of individuals looking for a research opportunity linked to frailty, and they collaboratively developed a research bid for a study testing the product with a district nursing team and patients in their own homes. The team applied for funding from the Burdette Foundation and are very pleased to say that they have been awarded £97,000 to take forward the PARCHED study.