Nutrition and Hydration - Managing Risk

Nutrition and Hydration

This section aims to support health professionals and care staff working in residential aged care to support the nutrition and hydration preferences and needs of people in the palliative phase1 and to identify and manage associated risks.

A factsheet has been developed for residents, their families and friends.

Key messages

  • The person’s nutrition and hydration needs and preferences are likely to change throughout the palliative phase.
  • The preferences and choices of the person are paramount and should be respected. It is important to understand what, how, when and with whom they want to eat and drink.
  • The person (or, if they lack capacity, their substitute decision-maker) should be equipped to make informed choices about nutrition and hydration options including whether to receive artificial nutrition and hydration support.
  • Ongoing assessment of nutrition and hydration needs and preferences is essential to best manage the changing requirements and risks to safety and wellbeing whilst eating, drinking and/or using nutritional products or feeds. Sometimes this will require input from other health professionals with relevant expertise (e.g. from dietitian or speech pathologist).
  • The person may make eating and drinking choices that present risks to them, but which are important to their quality of life. Dignity of risk conversations should occur alongside supporting their preferences.
  • Good communication with the person (and, where the person consents, their family and friends) about changing needs and preferences can support a positive end of life experience.

Page updated 06 February 2024