March is Nutrition Month and Dietitian’s Day is March 18th. The theme this year is Good for you! Dietitians help you find your healthy. For the past year, the focus for many of us has been on staying healthy during the pandemic.
Dietitians work in various roles throughout the health region in community, long-term care, acute and outpatient settings. However, like many other health professionals, they have been redeployed to assist with the pandemic response.
Clinical dietitians have been a vital part of the health care team required to treat ill patients due to the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 has many health implications, including a negative impact on one’s nutrition. Symptoms commonly experienced, including loss of taste, loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhea, can quickly lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Dietitians can help improve a client’s food intake through individualized diets and suggesting foods high in nutrition. If needed, nutritional supplements may also be recommended when a patient or resident is having difficulty meeting their nutritional needs. As well, patients who have contracted COVID-19 may develop increased problems chewing and swallowing. Dietitians work closely with Speech-Language Pathologists to assess and recommend safe diet textures.
Dietitians are responsible for ensuring nutritional needs are met for all patients even when oral intake is not possible. Many patients who become critically ill due to the virus require tube feeding (enteral nutrition support) as they cannot meet their nutrient needs through oral intake.
Older adults are at higher risk of malnutrition and dehydration, making them even more vulnerable to poor outcomes if they contract COVID-19. This knowledge prompted the development of the Nutrition and Hydration in Personal Care Home (PCH) policy, in which Dietitians were involved. They took a leadership role in educating PCH front-line staff on the policy. They showed creative ways staff could improve the nutrition and hydration for our residents during the pandemic and into the future.
During the pandemic, Dietitians working in outpatient settings have been resourceful in finding ways to connect with clients through phone calls or virtually through video conferencing. More time spent at home has provided individuals with the opportunity to explore more home cooking practices. Dietitians can assist in creating nutritious meal ideas for families and those living alone.
If you wish to speak to a Registered Dietitian in the Prairie Mountain Health region, please call 1-877-509-7852.
For more information on Nutrition Month or healthy eating, check out: