Dietitian Services – understanding your options

There is a bewildering array of allied health services available to aged care homes and dietitian services rank amongst them. The services can vary from weekly visits, to the once a year menu review, and everything in between. It’s also good to note that, The Accreditation board and wider legislation do not mandate a dietitians to support aged care homes, which we find questionable at the least!

We all know that nutrition and food is significant to many aspects of well being for residents both physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition to this, there are also the requirements to meet standards of care, pass accreditation and meet budgets.

The differences in dietetic services can either leave you dangling or ensure you are thoroughly supported throughout to achieve and surpass these benchmarks.

Your regular dietetic services should exceed ACSAA Standards.

If your dietitian is visiting regularly, you can expect not only clinical care but further services to bring your organisation to the forefront of nutrition excellence.

Clinical Care: it is the basis of what dietitians do. If there are referrals to see residents in need, this is a high priority. BUT! Clinical referrals will be reduced by addressing systems around menus, dining environments and staff training.

Wider services that can be used to identify and address any gaps in nutrition care include: Nutrition and Hydration Auditing and Supplements Reviews (aimed at reducing supplement use and dependency).

The Benefits of “Regular” Dietitian Services are

Proactive management.

You dietitian would be proactively looking for quality improvement in many aspects of your home. It does not rely on reactive problem fixing.

Significant cost savings.

This is a result of eliminating duplication of services, and implementation of effective systems and processes.

Integration of the dietitian into the home.

Your dietitian will develop a thorough understanding of your residents’ requirements and is able to implement appropriate communications and systems.

On-call Service Provision

Dietitians that attends on an “on-call” basis means you are likely receiving services that are more of a clinical model.

This model works well for smaller homes that have strong base of long term staff who know resident requirements well. Homes that are rural, remote or have poor access to dietitians may also utilise an on-call model.

The On-call model is usually more expensive per hour and doesn’t allow for the level of integration of the dietitian that regular services facilitate. However, for some homes it is all they need or can afford.

“On-call” services usually provide:

  • Clinical assessment of residents (as per referrals generated by your home)
  • Providing written and verbal handover of recommendations
  • Providing a summary of residents seen and activities performed for reference

There are of course demands and responsibilities placed on staff in the On-call model. These centre on strong management of all nutrition and food-related systems and quality checks. Most dietitians are happy to support homes to achieve high standards of care regardless of which model we are working under.

Overall, you need to consider the service your dietitian provides, and the way it integrates into the broader systems at the home.  Is your dietitian service working well for your residents, staff and organisation?

Give Leading Nutrition a call on 1300 712 722 or contact us here if you’d like to know more.