The Government vitamin D scheme in January 2021 provided a one-off supply of vitamin D to all care home residents in England for 4 months, as it is likely that care home residents will have stayed indoors more than usual over spring and summer last year because of the national restrictions for COVID-19.
From around late March and early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get the vitamin D they need from sunlight as the body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, however during the autumn and winter we cannot make sufficient vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods, such as oily fish and liver, and some fortified foods, such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals; however, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone. Therefore, during the autumn and winter months everyone is advised to take a 10 microgram (400 IU) supplement of vitamin D every day.
Some adults are advised to take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D throughout the year if they are not often outdoors, for example if they are frail, housebound or living in a care home[i]. Public Health England’s (PHE) guidance on Healthier and more sustainable catering: nutrition principles also includes this recommendation. This advice is particularly important for people who have been shielding this year due to coronavirus (COVID-19), or residents who are living in care homes, because they are more likely to have been indoors over the spring and summer and so may not have been able to obtain enough vitamin D from sunlight. DHSC has therefore prioritised the provision of free vitamin D supplements to people in these groups in England.
PHE and NICE guidance advises care home residents to take vitamin D supplements (10mcg) throughout the year, so care homes should offer supplementation to their residents where appropriate using the DHSC guidance.
This supply should be provided by the care home as self-care and is not to be prescribed by the GP. Care Homes are required to meet resident’s full nutritional needs to sustain life and good health, and reduce the risks of malnutrition, in line with regulation 14 (Part A) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. In addition to provision of nutritious meals, this should include food supplements where necessary, such as vitamin D.
CQC has produced a useful guide for care homes about this: https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/adult-social-care/vitamin-d-supplements-supporting-people-who-receive-adult