With the recent hot weather, it’s become increasingly important to stay hydrated. And unsurprisingly, hospital admissions for dehydration and associated problems are always higher at this time of year.
But what’s too often overlooked is how dehydration affects hospital workers, as well as social workers. With 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone, resources are tight and nurses are being overworked – taking fewer, and shorter, breaks. And when the weather is exceptionally hot, the situation is exacerbated.
Dangerous for health and social care professionals; dangerous for patients and clients
A Nursing Times study in 2015 found that 45% of staff at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust were dehydrated by the end of their shift. And experts at the Royal College of Nursing suggest the risks of dehydration go beyond employee wellbeing.
Dehydration impairs concentration, which in turn triggers fatigue – and needless to say, fatigue could impact patient safety. Specifically, dehydration can impede short-term memory, which is particularly risky for busy nurses and overwhelmed hospitals. Some research suggests that fluid depletion of just 5% can reduce your capacity for physical work by as much as 30%.
For health and social care professionals themselves, it’s worth remembering just how damaging dehydration can be. In its mildest form, dehydration manifests itself through dizziness, headaches and tiredness. But those symptoms can escalate quickly, and can ultimately lead to more severe problems like kidney stones or seizures.
Is enough being done to raise awareness?
Anyone who uses the London Underground to get to work will know you can hardly get on a train without being told to carry a bottle of water with you. But in the workplace, awareness of this issue varies – with some organisations proactively promoting hydration, and others ignoring it completely.
You might think the NHS would be a big advocate of this issue, given how often it treats the effects of dehydration. But remarkably, that isn’t the case among NHS staff. Overstretched staff simply aren’t getting the breaks they need to keep this up. Long shifts and short breaks mean hydration is being sacrificed, and when heatwaves hit, this just isn’t acceptable. After all, when it’s this hot, we need to drink more water than usual – somewhere between six and eight glasses a day.
We’re giving water pouches to all our candidates
We want do our bit to raise awareness of just how serious dehydration is for health and social care professionals, and their ability to do their job. It’s been overlooked for long enough.
So, we’re giving all our candidates water pouches that can be easily stored and carried around. If you’re a HCL candidate – or indeed if you’d like to be – request your water pouch and we’ll get it sent to you.
And please spread the word about dehydration among health and social care professionals far and wide. Because with staff shortages increasing all the time, we’re concerned that this issue could get worse before it gets better.