The Royal Commission into aged care has put the spotlight on many harrowing examples of older Australian’s subject to malnutrition. At the hearing located in Caines, celebrity chef, Maggie Beer, took to the stand declaring residential aged care facilities were spending too little on quality food, stating “there are no standards, skills standards, right across the aged care industry.” Having nutrition consultation can change your life.
Dr Sandra Iuliano and Dietitian Sharon Lawrence also shared “about 1.14 million older Australians living in the community are at risk of malnutrition and another 304,000 are actually malnourished”.
People with malnutrition experience reduced quality of life, greater morbidity and mortality.
Weight loss is the most obvious sign that a person is not getting enough nutrition.
Malnutrition can be prevented through screening and early intervention and a referral to a dietitian or nutritionist is the best first point of contact.
No formal referral is needed to see an accredited dietitian or nutritionist in Australia.
An appointment can be arranged by calling MyAgedCare for people accessing any home care subsidised by the government, such as CHSP or a home care package. If the person requiring a review is unable to travel, then ask for a home visit. This is not always possible, depending on the services available in your area, but worth checking.
Private services can also be arranged. The appointment fee is often less than a non-bulk billing general practitioner.
If the person is in hospital or a nursing home, documenting your concerns with the lead health care professional is a good start.
Often the solution will involve a team of people including a GP, nurse or other HCPs to address the hydration and nourishment.
When searching for a dietitian and or a nutritionist, ask if you can see someone who specialises in the elderly. This can be useful as they usually will have a good network in the sector and frequently used tips to help.
Services to consider are home–delivered meals, assistance with shopping and meal preparation, addition of supplements (e.g.: oral liquid food) and advice on meal choices at restaurants.
A nutritional consultation could literally be life–changing.
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