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The move from a long-stay learning disabilities hospital to community homes: a comparison of clients’ nutritional status

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Adults with learning disabilities have a greater incidence of health problems than the general population. It is now well established that they are a nutritionally vulnerable group with polarized weight distributions.Aim

This study was undertaken to investigate the nutritional consequences of the closure of a large learning disabilities hospital and the resettlement of clients in small community homes.Methods

The nutritional changes were measured using a locally devised nutrition screening form. This had previously been tested for reliability and validity.

Clients were screened in the month prior to their discharge from Stallington Hall and at 1 year post-discharge. The two screening forms for each client were then compared.

The screening form assessed risk in three areas: nutritional adequacy, weight and nutrition-related problems.Results

A number of significant increases in risk between the two screens were seen. In particular, there was an increase in overall risk relating to food groups, unintentional weight gain and loss and overall risk relating to weight.

At the first screen, 70% of the women and 55% of the men were outside the normal weight ranges and by the second screen these percentages had increased to 82% and 60%, respectively. It was not possible to weigh 15% of the study participants at the second screen because suitable scales were not available.Conclusions

The study confirms the nutritional vulnerability of the participants and highlights a number of adverse nutritional changes. It supports the need for regular screening and dietetic input.
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Keywords: disabilities; learning; nutrition screening; resettlement

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2000

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