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It’s no secret the baby boomer population is aging, and they are aging in large numbers. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) estimated the world’s population of people ages 65 and older at 8%. By the year 2050, that number is projected to triple. In developed countries like the US, that translates into a 75% increase. It may be hard to believe, but in the next few decades there will be more centenarians being cared for than children. As nursing home facilities expand to accommodate this boom, special attention must be paid to the dietary needs of each resident. A properly monitored diet can help ensure that the senior does not become malnourished or vitamin deficient. Good nutrition also affects the ability for a senior to heal from a medical condition and promotes their overall emotional well-being. Federal law mandates that facilities staff a qualified dietitian either full/part time or on a consulting basis. Nutrition consulting firms are cropping up nationwide and facilities are turning to them to ensure that their patients’ daily dietary and nutritional needs are being met. A few of the benefits of hiring a nutrition consultant versus

employing a dietitian on staff are: • Access to a network of professionals with experience in the clinical and food service industry. • Elimination of employee benefit costs like paid vacation, paid maternity leave, 401K, paid sick leave, paid vacation, workers compensation, liability costs and employee tax. • Filling part time, temp or prn positions. On the other hand, a full-time dietitian may be able to: • Be more in tune to patients’ ever-changing needs and closely observe how they react to adjustments made to their daily diet plan. • Spend more time giving educational workshops to facility staff members and caregivers. • Develop relationships with the patients’ entire health team, making him or her feel supported and cared for in the environment Today, financial considerations drive our healthcare system more than ever. Management is tasked with weighing the cost benefits of adding personnel to their facilities. Dietitians and nutrition consultants have to demonstrate that they can deliver premium services while reducing costs. Meanwhile, administrators must recognize their value and what they bring to the table—literally. Elaine Farley-Zoucha, president and owner of EZ Nutrition Consulting, PC in Columbus, Nebraska, shares her

perspective on the value of a nutrition consultant. “As a consultant, we are often able to focus more on the resident because we are not being pulled in as many directions as a full-time, on-staff person. Because we aren’t in any one facility on a daily basis, when we do come in either weekly or bi-weekly, we see our clients through a fresh pair of eyes. This enables us to provide them with very targeted, objective clinical assessments and nutritional interventions. Additionally, we are able to zero in on food safety and sanitation which helps the facility uphold all federal and state regulations that govern the daily operations of the food service department.” When asked if her team of registered dietitians and food service directors is able to maintain close relationships with the residents they serve, Ms. Farley-Zoucha responded in the affirmative. “We build relationships with residents during our visits by doing resident interviews and being present during meal service. This allows us to observe eating patterns or behaviors, address concerns with feeding, and make better recommendations for the resident.” Undoubtedly, the common goal of all nursing home staff both on and off site is to help the boomers transition into the next period of their lives seamlessly and in the best health possible. After all, don’t they deserve the best that their golden years have to offer? ●

Profile for SpecialtyRx

Upfront Healthcare Issue 3  

Upfront Healthcare Issue 3