Here are practical steps you can take:
- If your loved one is allowed fluids, and the staff agree, then give fluids yourself. Discuss the patient’s ability to drink with the medical staff especially if they need assistance. If the staff on the ward are very busy, then it may be important for relatives to be there throughout the day to help them drink and eat.
- If you suspect your loved one is being denied fluids or is receiving less than they need, or if the person is on ordered fluid restriction, ask the nursing staff why.
- If you do not get a satisfactory answer, and you are prevented from giving fluids, you can:
a) ask to speak to the doctor and say you are concerned about dehydration and ask them to get a blood test to check.
b) you should try and document how much fluid they are getting.
c) see if the person is being treated in the same way as other patients: not by themselves in a side room, getting nutrition and regular medications.
d) ask if the person has been put on an “end of life” pathway.
e) seek advice through the Dehydration LifeLine phone.
- If you are told that it is not safe for the person to swallow:
a) ask to see the swallow test performed by the speech and swallow team.
b) ask if a feeding tube can be put down the nose to give fluids and nutrition.
c) ask if fluids can be given intravenously until swallowing returns.