Infuse Issue 14 October 2021 - Page 22

The recommendations of the Royal Commission set nutrition care of consumers receiving aged care services ( at home and in residential care settings ) at the forefront of the national agenda . Never ( in my career , at least ) have I seen such a level of political engagement in nutrition care of older Australians .

It really is the time for dietitians to lead in delivering nutrition care across the sector . But where to begin ?

There are notable workforce challenges to deliver some of the recommendations . Our specialist workforce in aged care needs to be expanded . In my opinion , meeting these workforce challenges cannot be delivered solely by the professional association , dietetics accreditation processes or the university system . New graduates can play a role in providing clinical nutrition care in aged care settings , but mentoring and supports are needed , particularly in the complexities of food service settings and across multi-site aged care groups .
These may be challenging to organise given the competitive contracting arrangements in residential aged care , but we do have experienced practitioners who can lead and support the emerging workforce .
Building partnerships locally within facilities but also more broadly within the industry will also be key to our success . Small steps contribute to building bigger and more expansive partnerships , and should ultimately lead to improved nutrition care and nutrition outcomes over time .
In addition to the clinical focus assumed through the expanded allied health workforce funding , delivering high quality food services is another challenge that confronts our profession . Dietitians can contribute evidence-based care across the spectrum of food services , including food production and presentation , and the dining experience . There will be challenges in implementing and monitoring the initiative announced in the May 2021 federal budget – a Basic Daily Fee supplement increase of $ 10 per resident per day . These funds have been earmarked to contribute to a greater overall spend on food . The issues raised within presentations to the Royal Commission mostly related to meal quality ( including variety , texture and temperature ), not food quantity . Indeed , our own recent multi-centre research showed that only 9.8 % of residents finished their main meal ( lunch or dinner ) across a 24 hour period .
© Dietitian Connection 22 Infuse | October 2021