Keeping aged care consumers engaged and healthy is an ongoing priority for all aged care providers, and has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic. Nutrition deserves close attention in this regard.
Here are some simple steps to prevent, identify and manage malnutrition risk:
1. Screen for malnutrition risks
Be alert to possible malnutrition flags during COVID-19 including appetite loss, changes in food consumption and bowel movements, and continue regular malnutrition screening. Increasing weight monitoring will help you to quickly identify and address malnutrition risk.
Delegate a staff member to undertake nutrition screenings using a validated tool such as the Mini Nutrition Assessment form and promptly refer to a dietitian for those at risk of, or experiencing, malnutrition.
2. Continue dietitian visits
Most residential aged care services are continuing dietitian consultations during the pandemic via remote and face to face visits. Remote visits include remote access to resident records, video consultations and video observations of the meal and dining experience. Face to face visits can still occur safely during COVID-19 by providing dietitians with a meeting room to review records and meet with consumers.
3. Social distance dining
Continuing to provide enjoyable meals and dining experiences is important for reducing the risk of malnutrition. The Lantern Project has practical tips to maintain high quality food and enjoyable dining during COVID-19 restrictions including:
- ensuring all hands are on deck to support residents during mealtime
- enabling remote access for clinicians
- ensuring all staff are on high alert for any instances of poor food intake
- consider scheduling a remote shared mealtime together with family and friends via FaceTime or Zoom.
See the tips recommended by The Lantern Project to manage the risk of malnutrition during COVID-19 visitor restrictions.