Today, healthcare policies are predominantly driven by care costs, transparency, and overall quality – and yet, nutrition-based care is still not utilized as a primary component of patient recovery in most major healthcare institutions despite the fact that “at least one third of patients in developed countries have some degree of malnutrition upon admission to the hospital” while an additional third of those who don’t face the risk of becoming malnourished once admitted.
The good news is, while malnutrition and its many subsequent consequences may be a burden, the overall impact of nutritional intervention remains clear. Countless studies have even concluded that older patients “with or at risk of malnutrition, have shown the potential of specific nutrition interventions to substantially reduce complication rates, length of hospital stay, readmission rates, cost of care, and, in some studies, mortality.” It’s all about proper nutrition delivery, education, counseling, and coordination.
Here is how you can start improving quality of care in your facility with enhanced nutrition today:
Establish A Culture That Values Nutrition
If you want to truly improve the quality of care your patients receive, making sure everyone on your staff is on the same page is crucial. You need all clinicians, supervisors, administrators, and more to fully comprehend the realities of malnutrition, including how to both spot it and stop it. You need to make sure every new/incoming patient is assessed automatically for malnutrition, and that nutrition interventions are “viewed as a core component of a patient’s medical therapy.” You have to acknowledge the fiscal benefits, and make sure everyone is equally committed to optimizing nutrition care. It will take time, but it is worth it.
Turn Your Clinicians Into Champions For Nutrition Care
While your dedicated dieticians may be your go-to leaders for nutritional guidance and advice, establishing an ingrained culture than values nutrition means empowering all healthcare professionals to encourage positive nutrition decisions. In fact, the only way nutrition-based care can be effective is if every member of your staff does their part to support each other, including discussing potential barriers/solutions for identifying and treating at-risk and malnourished patients; taking the time to make sure all nurses, physicians, and other staff understand risk factors and how to address positive screenings, and more.
Identify & Diagnose All Malnourished & At-Risk Patients
Early detection and intervention are essential in cases of malnutrition. The problem is, most patients are not even screened or assessed for malnutrition upon admission, which can lead to a wide array of care-related complications, ultimately interfering with recovery strategies. So, how do you fix it? By making automatic nutrition screenings within 24 hours of admission mandatory for all patients regardless of their reason for visiting. This way, every patient is able to receive the most precise care.
Nutritional Intervention & Continued Observation
When presented with a malnourished patient, rapid nutrition intervention should be a top priority “unless specific contraindications exist.” This might include alterations to diets, meal ordering/consumption assistance, calorie counts, and/or the supplementation of different ONS. From there, your staff will have to be alert of missed/unfinished meals, and ready to communicate this information back to your dieticians. Everything, of course, from initial assessments and treatment goals, to progress milestones and treatment adjustments, must be meticulously documented and regularly updated to “allow informed engagement by all providers and continuity of treatment if the patient is transferred to another care setting.” It also makes providing detailed discharge summaries for future care providers easier. The easiest way to do all of this this, of course, is through automation.
Require Comprehensive Discharge Nutrition Care & Education Plans Upon Release
In order to guarantee continued progress in patients who are leaving your care, you must be prepared to offer proper education and a post-hospitalization care plan – sparing no detail. Instructions for at-home care should be written clearly for the patient and their family/caretakers ideal comprehension, and explained thoroughly before discharge. Empower your patients by giving them all the resources they need to keep improving their health at home.
For information on implementing additional resources to assist your foodservice staff in improving the quality of care your patients receive, reach out to one of our foodservice software experts at Vision Software today. Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how Vision Software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.