Malnutrition is often thought of as something that only affects the elderly, but it can come in many shapes and sizes, sometimes affecting the most unlikely of people. A patient may look well, but if their clothes have been getting looser, or they are eating less than usual, their dentures have become loose, they have experienced unintentional weight loss, or reduced appetite, it’s important to investigate the malnutrition risk further.
Monash Health is committed to identifying and treating malnutrition early in order to avoid patient outcomes like muscle wasting, decline in functional mobility, reduced immunity and extended hospital stays. It is reported that 23-42% of hospital patients in acute care and 35-45% of patients in rehabilitation are malnourished, and in Victoria, the cost of malnutrition to the healthcare system is estimated to be $10.7 million each year!
So how can you help?
- Tell the nurse, doctor or dietitian if you have nutrition concerns about a patient
- Complete nutrition risk screening tools to identify ‘at risk’ patients early (MUST or MST). Access the PROMPT clinical guideline Malnutrition: Identification, Assessment, Management & Escalation (Adult Inpatients)
- Avoid unnecessary fasting and mealtime interruptions
- Encourage our patients to eat
- Provide assistance at meal times as appropriate such as sitting up, bringing the tray close, opening packaging or cutting food up
Check out more resources on Malnutrition Week here.
“Nutritional Care depends on teamwork between ALL healthcare workers in different disciplines”
– Royal College of Physicians, 2002