A SIMPLE armband developed in Salford is set to save thousands of elderly people and others from malnutrition.

Age UK Salford is celebrating news that its pioneering PaperWeight Armband will be available to vulnerable residents for free as part of a new £575,000 nutrition and hydration programme launched by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.

The non-invasive armband was designed to be used not just by doctors or nurses, but by carers and relatives as well. Its use can highlight the signs of malnutrition and allow users to seek medical advice faster than before.

It is also designed to be used with an NHS booklet, viewable below, to help elderly people and their carers understand and better improve their diet and quality of life.

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The PaperWeight Armband’s creation and development was thanks to the work of Kirstine Farrer, a consultant dietician at the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. She and her team and help from Salford Together, as part of a Malnutrition task force prevention programme set up in 2013.

It is estimated that 60,000 people in Greater Manchester suffer from malnutrition. However, this figure could be even higher as malnutrition often goes unnoticed.

The PaperWeight Armband tackles this by measuring the upper arm circumferences, as studies shown low circumferences to be a sign of malnutrition. Tools have been used in the past to measure patients, but the cost and simplicity of the armband make it easier for wider use.

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After initial testing and feedback the PaperWeight Armband was first put into action through Age UK Salford.

Since then the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership reported a 50% rise in the identification of cases of malnutrition, but spending by GPs on supplements was reduced by £300,000.

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership spoke to Salford Now about the successes of the programme so far: “We have currently assessed over 1000 people and have also trained people who have a potential reach of over 11,000 through their work.

“We are continuing to deliver training to enable as many people from health, social care and the community to use the Paperweight armbands.”

The nutrition and hydration programme also focuses on further raising awareness of the signs and impacts of malnutrition, and improving training and standards of care whilst offering more personalised treatment and support.

The team at the GMHSC Partnership still works closely with local Age UK organisations: “In each borough local Age UK organisations are working with the Partnership and other organisations to lead the work to reduce preventable malnutrition in their borough.

“This includes training  staff and volunteers, championing the issue within their networks and raising awareness of the importance of eating and drinking well in later life and using the brief intervention among the people accessing their services.”

In terms of looking beyond Salford, the GMHSC Partnership said that; “The Paperweight Armband is currently also being used in Scotland as part of the Eat Well Scot programme. There has also been interest from a number of other areas, including Barnsley and Wakefield in the scheme.”

The armband is completely free for those in Salford thanks to costs being covered by the Salford Together Integrated Care Programme. Plus now, in the wider roll out of the scheme, those in Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Stockport thanks to GMCA Population Health programme funding.

For more information visit Age UK Salford or to download a copy of the NHS’ booklet click here.

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