Dozens of senior residents from Oldham came together with local health and social care staff and volunteers on Monday 11 March at a special tea party to celebrate the start of this year’s international Nutrition and Hydration Week.

The event held at the town’s library was the first of a series of 60 Global Tea Parties that took place across Greater Manchester over the week, organised by more than fifty local services, charities and community groups.

Malnutrition and dehydration are estimated to affect more than 60,000 of the city region’s over 65s.

Older residents can be at risk of malnutrition and dehydration, particularly when living on their own. This can result in weight loss and low body weight, decreased energy levels, reduced mobility, increased likelihood of falls and ill-health, and a worsening of the ability to recover from illnesses.

There are also significant impacts on Greater Manchester’s health and care services – with malnutrition costing the region more than £1.1bn every year. Nationally, the costs of malnutrition to the NHS are twice those of obesity.

In response, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has invested more than half a million pounds in a Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration Programme. This aims to increase detection of malnutrition and dehydration in older residents and help them to make sure they eat and drink enough, including through tea parties and ‘lunch and learn’ groups.

The programme, which is being managed by Age UK Salford and delivered alongside community partners and groups across the city region. These partners include Oldham Council, Age UK Oldham and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, who together co-hosted OIdham’s Global Tea Party event.

Sandra Houghton, from Chadderton, who attended Greater Manchester’s first Global Tea Party in Oldham, said: “I lost my husband four years ago. Being on my own, I can’t be bothered to cook a proper full meal, it’s a waste of time for one person. I normally eat one meal a day, one glass of water, maybe a cup of tea, that’s it. I know I should eat more, and drink more. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this. I’ve had a couple of sandwiches, a couple of drinks of tea. It’s fantastic being with other people.”

Sarah Price, executive lead for population health and commissioning at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We’re proud to support Nutrition and Hydration Week across Greater Manchester. Weight loss is often dismissed as a natural part of ageing – but for many people, and our public services, the consequences can be serious. That’s why we’ve invested over half a million pounds in our wide-reaching nutrition and hydration programme. With more than 2,000 older people already engaged, 150 of whom were found to be at risk but who otherwise may have been missed, we hope the benefits are starting to be felt.”

Oldham Councillor Zahid Chauhan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said: “We want everyone in Oldham to be happy and heathy throughout their lives and this event provided an opportunity to make a difference to residents’ health. The Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme is about us all being aware of the importance of good food and drink and supporting older people to eat and drink well. This tea party brought people together to join in, celebrate and raise awareness of the fact that weight loss and dehydration should not be dismissed as a natural part of ageing.”

Teresa Griffiths, Health & Wellbeing Activity Coordinator at Age UK Oldham, said: “We are really pleased to be supporting the Greater Manchester Nutrition and Hydration programme in Oldham and we want to encourage anyone who comes into contact with people aged 65+ to come along to our short training sessions to learn more. We have regular sessions planned throughout the year and, if you are part of an organisation or group, we can organise a training session especially for you. It’s a real opportunity to make a difference.”

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