June 12, 2023

Must score (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool)

Table of contents

For anyone working in health and social care, ensuring the well-being and health of individuals being cared for is of the utmost importance. 

In the case of domiciliary care, malnutrition is a particularly significant concern, as it is more likely to affect individuals receiving care at home. Malnutrition can lead to numerous health complications, and heavily impact the outcomes of care recipients if left unchecked.

To tackle this issue effectively, health and social care professionals use the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) score

This comprehensive screening tool aids in identifying and managing malnutrition promptly, enabling caregivers to provide appropriate interventions and improve the overall quality of care. 

In this blog post, we will delve into what the MUST score entails, how it is calculated, and its significance in the UK domiciliary care industry.

What is the MUST Score?

The MUST score is a widely recognized tool developed by the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) to identify individuals who are at risk of malnutrition. 

It serves as an efficient and standardised method for healthcare professionals to assess and prioritise nutritional interventions for patients in domiciliary care settings.

The MUST score incorporates three main factors:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is calculated by measuring an individual's height and weight. It provides an indication of whether a person is underweight or overweight for their height.
  2. Unintentional Weight Loss: Assessing weight loss is crucial, as it can be an early indicator of malnutrition. Healthcare professionals record the percentage of weight loss within a specific timeframe, usually the past three to six months.
  3. Acute Disease Effect: This component determines the severity of acute disease and its impact on an individual's nutritional status. Healthcare professionals assign scores based on the level of disease effect.

How to Calculate the MUST Score?

Calculating the MUST score involves a step-by-step process:

  1. BMI Calculation: Measure the individual's height and weight accurately. Use these values to calculate the BMI using the formula: weight (kg) / (height (m))².
  2. Assign BMI Scores: Interpret the BMI value according to the MUST BMI chart, which provides corresponding scores ranging from 0 to 3.
  3. Determine Weight Loss Scores: Assess the percentage of unintentional weight loss experienced by the individual and assign scores based on the MUST weight loss chart.
  4. Evaluate Acute Disease Effect: Assess the severity of the acute disease or condition and allocate scores accordingly, using the MUST acute disease effect chart.
  5. Sum the Scores: Add up the BMI score, weight loss score, and acute disease effect score to obtain the total MUST score.

Based on the total MUST score, healthcare professionals can classify individuals into three categories: low, medium, or high risk of malnutrition, allowing for appropriate interventions.

Why is the MUST Score Important?

The MUST score holds significant importance within the UK domiciliary care industry for several reasons.

Firstly, the implementation of the MUST score enables healthcare professionals to identify individuals at risk of malnutrition at an early stage. 

By promptly recognising signs of malnutrition, caregivers can initiate interventions to prevent further deterioration of health. 

Early detection allows for timely nutritional support and prevents the escalation of complications associated with malnutrition.

Secondly, the MUST score facilitates tailored nutritional interventions. 

Each individual's nutritional needs vary, and the MUST score aids healthcare professionals in developing personalised care plans. 

By categorising individuals into low, medium, or high risk based on their MUST score, caregivers can provide targeted interventions that address specific nutritional requirements. 

This approach ensures that individuals receive the appropriate level of support and care necessary to improve their nutritional status.

Moreover, the MUST score plays a crucial role in improving health outcomes for individuals receiving domiciliary care. By effectively managing malnutrition through the use of the MUST score, healthcare professionals can mitigate the risks and consequences associated with inadequate nutrition. Timely intervention and comprehensive management contribute to enhanced health outcomes, increased energy levels, improved wound healing, and a strengthened immune system. Ultimately, this leads to an improved quality of life for individuals under domiciliary care.

Additionally, the implementation of the MUST score optimises resource allocation in domiciliary care settings.

By identifying individuals at high risk of malnutrition, healthcare providers can allocate resources efficiently. 

The MUST score helps prioritise individuals with the greatest nutritional needs, ensuring that they receive the appropriate level of care and support. 

This targeted approach ensures that resources are utilised effectively, resulting in better outcomes for those in need of nutritional interventions.

In conclusion, the MUST score is a crucial tool in the UK domiciliary care industry for identifying and managing malnutrition. Its importance lies in early identification, personalised care planning, improved health outcomes, and optimised resource allocation. By utilising the MUST score, healthcare professionals can enhance the overall well-being and quality of life for individuals in domiciliary care by addressing their specific nutritional needs effectively.

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