AN award-winning North-East health initiative which is helping to combat undernutrition is going national.

The Focus on Undernutrition (FoU) service at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has lead the way nationally on identifying and treating the problem.

The FoU service provides training and support to health and social care staff.

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So far it has trained more than 3,000 healthcare staff and 400 catering staff in more than 75 care homes across the region.

Now the FoU service has launched a new website which will allow organisations across the UK to use it to train their own staff.

The National Patient Safety Agency said the new website will be "a valuable resource".

At any one time it has been estimated that there are more than three million people in the UK who are at risk of being undernourished.

Rachael Masters, lead dietitian with the trust’s FoU team, said: "Since the programme has become so successful and has been recognised nationally as a flagship project we wanted to make it more accessible to a wider audience.

"The new website includes access to e-learning packages. We have put together two different e-learning tools, one which is aimed at identifying and treating undernutrition in care homes and one which is focused on the community, so people who are living in their own homes.

"The e-learning packages are an alternative, more flexible approach to training for staff working in the community setting and in care homes.

"We've designed the packages to be as user friendly as possible, they're easy to navigate and include different learning methods such as videos, drag and drop activities and multiple choice questions."

The Trusts FoU team piloted the e-learning packages with two care homes in County Durham..

Joyce Spencely, from Howlish Hall Nursing Home, in County Durham, said: "The e-learning packages worked very well. It is a positive step for the FoU programme and it will be an advantage for us with new starters when they can access the training online. It's more flexible and will save staff time."

For more information visit focusonnutrition.co.uk or ring 01388-452330.