The right to food and drink

Our access to food is a human right, this protects the right for us to feed ourselves, with sufficient food available to meet our dietary needs and our dignity is maintained.

Our right to food protects the right of all human beings to be free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Decisions about assisted nutrition and hydration measures should be made with the support of the multi-disciplinary team in partnership with the person and those who matter to them, where possible.


The following questions can be considered in this decision making process:

  • Are the patient’s wishes known?
  • How will artificial hydration or/and nutrition benefit the patient?
  • Is eating and drinking normally causing the patient discomfort?
  • Is the patient keen or able to continue eating and drinking?
  • Have the risks and discomforts linked with artificial nutrition and hydration been considered? (Watson et al, 2009)

The following clip demonstrates the value of shared decision making.

Equality and human rights

Patients who are dying must receive the same standard of care as all other patients, and have the right to be treated with dignity and respect throughout the course of their care. Their privacy and dignity must be respected and good quality care should be provided in comfortable surroundings. Patients and those close to them must be treated with understanding and compassion.