National Quality Indicators – Some Food for Thought

We are 12 months into the National Quality Indicators (NQI) Program and we now have many residential aged care facilities across Australia enrolled in the NQI program, collecting data on rates of unplanned weight loss across their resident groups.

In most of these homes, there are also

The required Data for NQI on unplanned weight loss is the number of residents with loss of 3 kg or more in a month Loss of weight over each month of the quarter, regardless of quantity of that loss
(www.agedcare.health.gov.au)

  • Weight Management Policies,
  • dietitian referral processes and
  • staff initiated interventions,

all aimed at responding to unplanned weight loss.

This issue of Nutrition Matters looks more closely at how to manage this efficiently and how your dietitian can help.

It’s fair to say that with multiple systems in place to record, report and act on weight loss within residents, there is the risk that this can increase the burden on nursing, clinical and dietetic resources within facilities. Certainly we, at Leading Nutrition have seen many homes, where referrals to the dietitian are higher in the NQI data collection month!

This doesn’t need to be the case. It’s worth considering the following…

How does your existing weight policy compare to the parameters in the NQI reporting?

Having conflicting parameters in the weight management policy compared to what is in the NQI, could be confusing for everyone. It’s useful to take a look at which system is more stringent and captures the most “at risk” residents. Consider updating your policy to reflect what the practise is, if you are now in the NQI.

There should be no resident highlighted in the collection of NQI data that hasn’t already been identified by your Weight Management Policy and interventions put in place for.

How well is your Existing policy being implemented by all staff?

A policy is only as good as the staff who know about it and use it. Collecting data for the NQI can seem to put additional pressure on staff, when in fact, the existing Weight Management Policy already supersedes the requirement of the NQI. Are you staff aware of this? Do they need upskilling and reminding that the existing policy, if used daily, already meets the need?

Your staff should all be confident that the Weight Management process at your home remains appropriate, or is being updated to reflect the inclusion of NQI
It’s useful for all homes using the NQI, or those considering joining the program, to consider the background policy and education support needed to reduce the stress around collecting this data, and ensure that all staff are on board. An Aged Care Dietitian is well skilled, of course, to assist you with this. Discussing it with your dietitian is a great place to start!