Dietitians in long term care
Long-term care includes services that help meet the needs of people with a chronic illness or disability who cannot care for themselves for long periods of time.
Many patients in long term care facilities are malnourished. Some are at risk of malnutrition due to swallowing disorders, disabilities and health issues. Since long term care residents eat all their meals in the facility, a dietitian must be available to oversee the meals. Dietitians can help plan menus to ensure nutritional needs are met and food is safe.
Assessment of all residents upon admission to a long term care facility to determine their nutrition risk
A nutrition care plan for all residents developed and monitored by a dietitian
Facility menus (3 to 4 week cycle menu) that are balanced and meet the nutrition and fluid needs of residents
Menu approval by a dietitian
Consultation with a registered dietitian on all prescribed therapeutic diets including texture-modified and food allergy diets
Qualified food service staff that are trained in safe food handling practices
Dietitians, in particular dietitians in Ontario, have advocated for better funding to support healthier foods served in long term care facilities. In most other provinces, dietitians have contributed to the review of regulations for long term care facilities to support access to nutrition services.
Across Canada, dietitians are engaged in the international initiative nutritionDay. This is a 1-day cross sectional audit designed to collect information that will help hospitals and long term care facilities improve how they identify patients that may be at risk of malnutrition. The goal is to improve the nutritional care of all patients.
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