Malnutrition continues to be a pressing issue and crisis, which is still under-recognised and under-screened. The Patients Association Malnutrition Checklist was developed in 2018 to address a gap that existed for self-screening tools that were simple and easy to use. The checklist helps patients and staff working in health and social care to identify the potential risk of undernutrition in adults, aiming to encourage conversations and raise awareness of the potential for undernutrition.

Since the checklist was launched in 2018, very few new screening tools for patients have emerged, and our checklist continues to be popular with patients, carers and staff.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance for the checklist as a tool that could be used effectively from a distance. So, this year, we decided to update it to ensure that it continues to be relevant, useful and accessible for adults at risk of undernutrition, so they can access information and support. We are grateful to Nutricia Ltd for its support of the update.

The update

The Patients Association gathered extensive feedback from patients and healthcare professionals on which aspects of the 2018 checklist should be kept, and which should be considered for further improvement. In updating the checklist, the focus was on improving the “look and feel” and updating the signposting to other resources, rather than changing the checklist’s content, given the extensive pilot testing and validation that had already been done.

You can read the 2018 report that laid the foundation for the first version of the checklist.

We gathered feedback from healthcare professionals before patients and then tested their proposed suggestions for improving the checklist with our patient testers. The feedback identified areas for further improvement to the “look and feel”, having an online version, additional signposting information and recipes, and some changes to the layout and organisation.

Why the checklist is important

It is estimated that more than 1.1 million people over 65 living in their own homes in the UK are currently undernourished, underweight or are not receiving appropriate nutrition to support and maintain their health and wellbeing. 

How to use the checklist

There are two versions of the checklist – one for patients to complete themselves, and one for staff, who may be carers, healthcare professionals, care home staff and so on.

  • Section A - includes simple questions to see whether the person has lost weight unintentionally or is underweight. These questions have been validated against the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, so we recommend using these questions as they are presented in the checklist.
  • Sections B to D - helps to identify people likely to be at risk of malnutrition based on their answers to Section A. It includes additional questions to focus on the reasons for risk of malnutrition, and provides a framework for giving basic advice and signposting to services that can provide support. It has space to record any specific advice given, recommendations made, and any follow up plans. However, please note that at the current time, many local organisations are not able to run (e.g. lunch clubs, day centres) due to COVID-19. It is recommended to check with local organisations including local council and volunteer organisations for needs and advice for social support.

Get the checklist

Front page of patient nutrition checklist  Front page of staff nutrition checklist

Patient version            Staff version

Watch a video about the checklist

An animated video about the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist was developed for use in GP surgeries. The film was developed to explain the possibility of being undernourished or underweight, to introduce the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist and to give information about what actions to take.

Further information

Explanatory guide in light of COVID-19: Social distancing and social isolation could impact a person’s access to the wide variety of foods needed to keep healthy and may make them want to eat less.

 Page content and links update 7th October 2021; planned review October 2023.