October 11, 2023

Be a nutrition champion!

This week Northern Health is proud to recognise Malnutrition Week ANZ. A time dedicated to raise awareness of the role nutrition screening plays in the prevention and treatment of the staggering rates of malnutrition detected in Australian and New Zealand communities and healthcare settings.

Every inpatient at Northern Health is required to be weighed and screened for malnutrition risk within 24 hours of admission to hospital. Further re-screening is also required weekly thereafter.

“At Northern Health one in five inpatients are malnourished,” said Nadia Obeid, Senior Dietitian.

“Malnourished patients tend to stay longer in hospital, are more likely to be readmitted.”

Malnutrition can have a significant burden on patients, carers, families and the entire healthcare system. When there is unintentional weight loss and reduced appetite and food intake, clinicians should refer to a dietitian.

Jianmin’s Story

Northern Health dialysis patient Jianmin He (pictured) lost weight and developed malnutrition which left him feeling extremely tired and weak. He was eating poorly and also had a reduced appetite. But with nutrition support from the Northern Health Dietetics service, he was able to re-gain the weight he’d lost. Jianmin is now feeling stronger, more energetic and much better equipped to take on his treatment.

“The Dietitian support and nutrition drinks helped me gain the weight and my strength back. It has helped give me a speedy recovery,” Mr He said.

The theme of this year’s Malnutrition Week campaign is, ‘Be a nutrition champion!’

“While dietitians live and breathe nutrition, they can’t be the only healthcare professionals to ‘champion’ nutrition in hospitals,” Ms Obeid said.

“Nurses, doctors, allied health staff, and food service professionals all play a key role in championing nutrition and improving quality of life for the patients they care for.”

Malnutrition screening is a key component to the effective care and treatment of our patients. In a recent initiative at Broadmeadows Hospital, dietitians and Allied Heath staff carried out regular audits of malnutrition screening and weighing, feeding results back to clinical staff, offering training and advice about the importance of the process.

This has led to a dramatic reduction in malnutrition prevalence on the ward, from 55 per cent in 2022 down to zero percent 12 months later. An outstanding team effort!

“We encourage everyone to be a champion for nutrition and improve the quality of life for those we are caring for,” Ms Obeid concluded.

Featured image: Senior Dietitian Nadia Obeid and Northern Health patient Jianmin He.