Food and nutrition are an essential part of maintaining an older person’s nutritional, physical and emotional wellbeing. They are also an enjoyable and social part of everyday life and mealtimes can provide structure to the day. As a person gets older, situations may arise where food and dietary intake are reduced or become more difficult. Situations such as difficulty swallowing or cutting up food, reduced mobility, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, dementia, depression, pressure sores and frailty, as well as pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or coeliac disease can all contribute to a person’s nutritional intake being reduced and/or their nutritional wellbeing being compromised.
Dietitians working in MISA use their knowledge of food, nutrition, and science to promote health, prevent disease and to aid in the management of illnesses for older people. Dietitians assess the nutritional status of patients, calculate individual nutritional requirements, design a nutritional plan of care to meet these nutritional requirements and educate patients, families and caregivers on therapeutic and health promoting diets or nutrition support. Dietitians working with older people in MISA work closely with their colleagues to provide diet and nutrition in a supportive and dementia friendly environment, while promoting dignity and enjoyment at mealtimes.
Referrals for inpatients in MISA can be made to the dietitian by any member of the medical, nursing or health and social care professional team by submitting a “Clinical Nutrition Inpatient Referral” using the hospital EPR (Electronic Patient Record) system. Dietitians accept referrals for a range of nutritional concerns including (but not exclusive to) the following: weight loss, reduced appetite, overweight, difficulty swallowing, pressure areas, constipation, diabetes, kidney disease, anaemia and conditions with increased or altered nutritional requirements. Patients are screened for malnutrition risk on admission by nursing staff and referred to Clinical Nutrition as indicated.
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