From Hospital to Home: Food is Medicine Too!

Did you know that 1 in 4 patients lose weight unintentionally when they leave a hospital which could lead to return visits? And that only 10% of patients leaving a hospital will see a Registered Dietitian in their community? For many patients, the transition to home from hospital can lead to increased vulnerability to malnutrition and poor health outcomes with malnourished patients being at higher risk for hospital readmission within 30 days of discharge. As our healthcare system becomes more focused on a “home is best” approach, a Registered Dietitian’s role in continuing care for malnourished patients is even more important!

Canadian Malnutrition Awareness Week is from September 25-29th this year. This year’s focus is “From Hospital to Home” and the importance of providing adequate support and resources regarding nutrition at home to our patients. This is a great opportunity for Clinical Dietitians (like me!) to showcase the importance of malnutrition awareness to both health care practitioners and the general public!CMW 2017 Poster

Some risk factors for patients likely to be at ongoing risk for malnutrition after discharge from a hospital admission include:

  • Being 65 years of age or older
  • Having a poor appetite
  • Requiring assistance with obtaining groceries
  • On a hard to follow diet (ex: swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) diet, post-operative diet, home tube feeds.. the list goes on!)

How can you as health care professionals help patients who are at risk for malnutrition that are going home? Here’s a few tips!

  • Explain why food and nutrition are important for recovery
  • Confirm someone will monitor their appetite and weight at home
  • Encourage families to keep shelves and refrigerators stocked with food, to visit at meal times and dine together when possible
  • Provide a list of community resources available for nutritional support

Want more information about Canadian Malnutrition Week? Check out www.nutritioncareincanada.ca or ask me your nutrition questions! The journey requires taking medicine as prescribed and eating healthy because food is medicine too. Got any other tips you’d like to share to help reduce malnutrition in your hospital? Let me know in the comments!

**Above information was extracted from the Canadian Malnutrition Taskforce website at http://www.nutritioncareincanada.ca***

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