Residents in an aged care setting must receive the correct meal at the correct time, every day.
If a resident has a special dietary need, the details are recorded in the resident's care plan and communicated carefully to the kitchen staff to ensure all the dietary limitations are actioned. More importantly the resident is not unnecessarily restricted and as many choices are provided as possible. We can use a range of communication methods to ensure that this occurs.
The system for communication between nursing staff and kitchen staff should be effective, simple and safe. A Dietitian and Speech Pathologist often contribute to this food and nutrition care plan and will also communicate directly with the kitchen staff. The resident's dietary details list will need to be maintained. So, when there is a change for a resident, that change is immediately communicated with the kitchen and any lists used are immediately updated.
It must be very clear whose responsibility it is to update all lists to ensure they are accurate and reflect the residents' current dietary needs. These lists must also be referred to whenever providing food or fluids to any residents.
What system of communication do you use? Are you relying on paperwork or do you use a clinical software system? Are you using a dedicated food service software system? Reports from client software packages can ensure that all information is up to date at all times and they can generate usable lists that can be referred to in the kitchen. A key factor is to keep the system that you use simple. Minimise the number of lists- the more lists there are, the more likely it is that they will not match.
When NPA conduct audits of nutrition care it is very common to find anomalies when comparing the care plans with lists in the kitchen. Regular audits should be undertaken by the care home to ensure integrity of the information and to provide reassurance that the right meal is provided to the right person.
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