Practice Blog

To share practice related stories, create connections and engage readers in the amazing diversity of dietitian experiences.


Sep
08
2016

Use of thickened fluids in long term care: Is there a better alternative?

A dietitian working in long term care discusses achieving a balance between safety and quality of life for residents.


WHHS1.jpgWinnie Hung is a consulting dietitian, with a Master of Public Health, based in Vancouver. She has been a long term care dietitian since 2009. Winnie received the BC Regional Morgan Medal Award from the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research in 2010 for her work in acknowledging the gap between theory and practice in menu planning for residents in care. Receiving this award helped deepen her commitment to improving the quality of food for this vulnerable population. You can follow Winnie on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or get in touch with her at  winnie.hung@healthquartet.com



“Winnie, Mr. B had excessive coughs when drinking his apple juice yesterday. Can you assess if he would benefit from thickened fluids?”
 
This is the type of message I receive on a regular basis from nurses and other care team members.  The demographics in long term care have changed in the past few years: people are being admitted at a later age with more complicated medical conditions, such as dysphagia.
 
When I was still a new dietitian in long term care, swallowing assessment referrals would lead to me going to see a resident with a tray of foods and liquids in various textures and consistencies by my side.  During the bedside swallowing assessment, I would observe the resident to see if any relevant symptoms were presented and recommend the appropriate textures to help minimize the risk of aspiration and/or pneumonia.  This is a standard scenario in a clinical setting, but I felt like something was missing. continue reading
 

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