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Mary O'Hara

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Medicare - Which Plan Should You Choose?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Nov 16, 2017 11:00:00 AM

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Medicare open enrollment is happening right now, so it's time to enroll in a Medicare plan by going to the Medicare.gov website. Open enrollment closes on December 7, and new Medicare coverage begins on January 1, 2018. 

Understanding Your Medicare Options: Medicare Advantage 

The important thing to keep in mind is that Medicare Advantage covers all Medicare services, including hospital inpatient and outpatient care. Most plans cover prescription drugs as well. These plans may also include additional benefits, such as home-delivered meals, vision, hearing, dental, and wellness, that original Medicare does not.

Medicare Advantage goes by many different names - you may have heard it called Medicare Part C or MA plans ("MA" stands for Medicare Advantage).

Millions are Signing Up! 

Medicare currently has 44 million beneficiaries (about 15% of the current United States population). That number is expected to grow to 79 million (nearly double the current number) by 2030, according to a recent AARP report

So, how does Medicare Advantage work?  Medicare Advantage combines hospital costs and doctor and outpatient care all in one plan. It can also include a Part D for presciption drug coverage.

The original Medicare plan includes Medicare Part A (inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, and hospice care) and Medicare Part B (outpatient care, doctors' services, and preventive services). Medicare supplemental insurance is only possible with a regular Medicare plan, not with Medicare Advantage plans. 

The original Medicare plan (Parts A and B) is a fee-for-service plan administered directly through the federal government. That's why you might have heard regular Medicare called "single payer" since you pay your deductible and coinsurance to just one other party. 

Medicare Advantage Could Mean Lower Copays, Greater Choice, and More Covered Services 

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies that are dedicated to providing quality Medicare services at competitive rates. Most Medicare Advantage plans are HMO (health maintenance organization) or PPO (preferred provider organization). 

For extra cost savings, you might want to explore a third kind of Medicare Advantage plan: private fee-for-service Medicare Advantage plans. Lower deductibles and an affordable fixed co-pay are common benefits to signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan.

Aside from potentially lower deductibles and co-pays, you might also benefit from lower out-of-pocket maximums with a Medicare Advantage plan, which means that your plan could cover 100% of your medical expenses once that yearly maximum is met. 

Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan is another option to explore if you take prescription medications and are concerned with affordability or a gap in coverage. 

With some Medicare Advantage plans you choose a primary care doctor. In others, you can go to any Medicare-eligible provider that accepts the plan's terms and payment rates. 

To find which plan works best for you, visit the  Medicare plan finder tool on Medicare.gov or you can also call 1-800-MEDICARE. Have the information on your Medicare card ready. 

Medicare Advantage Must Cover Medicare Services 

The great thing about Medicare Advantage plans is that they must cover all of the essential services that your original Medicare (Parts A and B) cover. This means that the following should be covered by Medicare Advantage: hospital inpatient, hospital outpatient, managed care, skilled nursing facility, home health, physician, and specialist (with referral). 

Many people like the added benefits that a Medicare Advantage plan offers. One benefit that is gaining popularity is a home-delivered meal benefit after a hospital stay. These meals can help your recovery, since preparing meals may be difficult after a hospitalization.

If you're looking to have all of your essential Medicare services covered, gain even more services that Medicare might not cover, and go through a private PPO for your Medicare needs, then you might want to check out a Medicare Advantage plan. Nearly ten million Americans have already done so.

Remember, open enrollment ends December 7!

Download eBook: 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing  a Home-Delivered Meals Provider 

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Topics: Medicare, Healthcare Research, Senior Health Plans, Senior Nutrition

Providing Emergency Meals for Hurricane Victims - During a Hurricane!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Oct 11, 2017 2:45:37 PM

Supply distribution point in Key West, FLShane Vansant (right) and Joshua Howard hand out food to Hurricane Irma survivors at a supply
distribution point in Key West, Florida on Monday, September 18, 2017. Photo by J.T. Blatty/FEMA

GA Foods was recently honored to serve those in need by providing disaster relief meal kits for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We drew from our 15 years of disaster relief experience to supply nearly 7,000,000 meals in 21 days to those in need - all while Hurricane Irma was nearing direct landfall in St. Petersburg, FL where the company is headquartered and emergency relief efforts are centered! 

But these extreme weather events did not hinder our employees' efforts. Many worked 12-hour days for 20 consecutive days in order to maintain a steady flow of life-saving foods to some of the most devastated regions, and continued to provide uninterrupted service to the people in need that we regularly serve...all while battling hardships of their own caused by Irma. 

It would be hard to find a better opportunity for us to live our core values - commitment, teamwork, and touching lives - than responding to those enduring the devastation of our latest storms while continuing to serve those in our regular care without disruption. GA Foods is honored to be able to serve those in need.

Disaster Relief Operations

GA Foods is one of the largest providers of emergency meals. To ensure a rapid and successful response to a disaster, GA Foods has implemented the following:

  • Four facilities with assembly lines available for disaster relief production
  • Vendor agreements to ensure adequate supply chain
  • A 30,000 square foot facility dedicated exclusively to disaster response and ready for immediate use
  • Tested and proven inbound and outbound logistics plan

3rd-Floor-Emergency-Line.png GA Foods' 30,000 square foot facility is dedicated to emergency response production.

We are GA Foods. We touch lives. We are committed to working as one team, united by a sense of ownership and guided by integrity and earned trust.

 

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Topics: Military, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, Disaster, Hurricane Relief

When Workplace Stress Sends You Running for Cover!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Aug 2, 2017 10:00:00 AM

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In the most general sense, workplace stress is a mismatch between the demands made of an employee and that employee's ability to carry out those demands. In other words, workplace stress is at its peak when job demands are highest and the employee's actual (or perceived) ability to carry out those demands are at their low point. 

Workplace stress can occur under a variety of different conditions: you could be facing conflicting job demands, you might feel like you're suddenly faced with too much responsibility, or you might have some lingering doubts about your exact (or changing) professional role at your organization. 

Strategies for Reducing Workplace Stress 

Taking a big-picture perspective, stress is more broadly defined as pressure or tension produced from demanding circumstances. Imagine a case manager or senior caregiver asked to work longer hours in a given week or expand her skill set in a short amount of time.  

Take Scheduling and Your Work-life Balance Seriously 

Workplace stress can be an awful feeling. You feel like everything is spinning out of control and that there isn't anything you can possibly do to make a difference.

Contrary to what you might be feeling in the moment, creating a more balanced schedule for yourself and taking regular breaks during your workday can mean less racing around the office and a more balanced, far less stressful workday. 

Creating a better work-life balance can make your relationships and support systems stronger outside of work and your workday much more fulfilling and efficient. Set boundaries for yourself, avoid overcommitment, and plan for downtimes throughout the day to recharge. Don't feel guilty about taking a break!

Practical Tips to Feel Less Overwhelmed 

The experience of feeling overwhelmed is frequently associated with workplace stress. Consider incorporating a few of these task management tips throughout your day-to-day to get a better handle on workplace challenges. 

At the very least, break down complex tasks into more manageable chunks, delegate tasks, collaborate with your coworkers, and ask your supervisor if you're unclear about something. 

Signs of Workplace Stress You Shouldn't Ignore 

Being on call around the clock, conflict-resolution issues, or feeling like you don't have enough autonomy in decision making can understandably produce some tension. But what are the signs that tension or challenges are worsening into workplace stress? 

Warning signs of workplace stress to look out for are: 

  • Apathy about work assignments 
  • Problems concentrating 
  • Feeling anxious or depressed 
  • Physical issues (insomnia, headaches, etc.) 
  • Withdrawal from coworkers 

As you'll notice from this list, workplace stress can have pretty serious emotional, social, and even physical effects if not dealt with. 

Workplace Stress Could be Temporary 

What's important to remember is that workplace stress can be temporary. Many industries, including healthcare and managed care organizations, are experiencing a bit of belt tightening right now, which could require employee cross-training in order to increase efficiency and tap into an organization's internal talents and resources. 

Cross-training and broadening your professional skill set can mean more fulfilling challenges and better employment prospects down the road. In the short term though, you could be talking about workplace stress and a potential adjustment period. 

Workplace stress shouldn't be ignored, but make sure that you're not confusing it for "good" stress and the pressure associated with workplace challenges, growth, and success. 

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Topics: Reduce Stress, Stress, Care Managers, Caregiver Burnout

Let Us Take Nutrition Care Off Your Plate!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jul 12, 2017 11:02:45 AM

Hunger-man-with-cane2.jpgWe know avoiding hospitalizations is a top priority for health plans. One way to keep your members out of the hospital, and to reduce the chance of readmission, is to prevent malnutrition. In fact, roughly one-third of patients who are not malnourished at admission will become so during their stay. Weight loss, being underweight, and failure-to-thrive/malnutrition have all been associated with readmission within 30 days of discharge.

Is My Member Malnourished? 

Here are some signs to look for to see if your members may be at risk for malnutrition:

  • Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. 
  • Chronic Illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may need help managing their diets. Special diets such as these may exclude foods the patient prefers to eat. 
  • Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is common after an illness or injury. Members may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Malnutrition is common after discharge.  Members may have difficulty preparing nutritionally balanced meals at home.  Busy caregivers may not know what meals are best for their loved ones.

Members who are malnourished face several risks:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Decreased wound healing
  • Higher rates of inflection
  • More hospital readmissions and higher healthcare costs. 

Food as Medicine

Proper nutrition can be like medicine for those suffering from a chronic condition. Those with diabetes and cardiac conditions need to adhere to diets that are low in sugar, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. 

Referring your members to a home-delivered meal provider will help to ensure they will be eating nutritious meals. Home-delivered meals after a hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery rates and the long-term health of members.

Six out of eight studies found that home-delivered meals significantly improved diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced food insecurity and nutritional risks among participants.  

To learn more about the impact of nutrition on the health of your members, download our eBook.

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Senior Nutrition

Chef Mike is Our Secret Ingredient!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jun 29, 2017 10:03:25 AM

chef mike test kitchen.jpgGA Foods is proud of our Executive Chef, Mike Thrash. Chef Mike is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University and joined GA Foods in 2014. An award-winning chef, he enjoys creating new ways to reformulate recipes and enhance flavors, making him our secret ingredient for healthy meals senior adults love!!!

Chef Mike's menu planning includes the tastes of sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and umami. If you aren’t familiar with umami, it's a savory taste. Umami has a pleasurable effect on the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of a meal. As we age, our sweet and salt taste buds tend to be the most reliable. So we design meals that showcase sour, bitter, and umami.

Chef Mike uses his expertise to add flavor and flair to familiar foods. Here are some new menu items that will be available in July!

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  • Meatballs and Penne Pasta in Marinara
  • Three Bean Chili con Carne
  • Homemade Chicken Stew (pictured)
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Breaded Fillet of Fish (pictured)
  • Grilled Pork Chop with Homestyle Gravy

To be sure GA Foods provides meals that seniors love, we conduct satisfaction surveys. Chef Mike and his culinary team use that feedback, along with trends, demographics, and seasonality data, to design menus. Through sensory analysis techniques, Chef achieves meals with maximum flavor, presentation, and satisfaction. All meals adhere to nutritional guidelines and promote senior health

For more information on senior health, click below.

Senior Nutrition

 

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Topics: Senior Health, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Nutrition

Want a Faster Recovery? Ask for Help!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jun 22, 2017 11:53:54 AM

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According to Kaiser Health News, 28 percent of patients (many being older adults) who are offered home health care services when they are discharged from the hospital, refuse the services available, which could lead to delayed recoveries, and reduced independence. Studies indicate that those who refuse post-discharge services may have higher rates of readmission to the hospital and a lower quality of life.

Time to Think About You!

After spending a lifetime supporting families and caring for others, many baby boomers find it difficult to ask for help. They may feel that accepting help is a weakness, and may lead to loss of control of their lives. In reality, accepting services can actually improve the recovery process, and help seniors to get better faster. 

Loss of independence is the number one fear among seniors. What many don’t realize are that the services available can help them to recover better in their own homes.

There are several services that Medicare may cover to help discharged patients get better at home.  A sample include skilled nursing, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover home-delivered meals as well.

The Role of Nutrition

One out of every three adults admitted to the hospital suffers from malnutrition. If untreated, two-thirds will become severely malnourished during their stay. Approximately one-third of patients who are not malnourished will become so by the time they are discharged.

If you have concerns that you, or a loved one, may be suffering from malnutrition, here are some things to look for:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not eating or only eating small amounts
  • Weakness and/or fatigue

Several health plans offer home-delivered meals to their members after a hospital stay. These meals can significantly impact both short-term and recovery and the long-term health of patients. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries.

Home-Delivered Meals

After returning home from the hospital, it may be difficult to prepare meals. This can be especially hard for those suffering from fatigue or limited mobility. Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, help older Americans to live more independently. Seniors will have the reassurance of receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home.

  • Home-delivered meals, after a hospitalization, may significantly reduce nutrition-related complications. 
  • Home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes.

Get Back Out There!

Today's active adults want to return to their normal activities as soon as possible. An illness or hospital stay doesn’t mean the end of a normal life for many. Sometimes a little help can go a long way to a faster, smoother recovery.

To find out if you, or a loved one, qualify for home-delivered meals, contact your health plan. Even those with chronic illnesses may qualify for home-delivered meals. Visit www.eldercare.gov to learn more.

Even after your recovery, remember eating nutritious foods can improve your overall health and give you the energy you need to stay active!  

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Medicare, Nutrition Care, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Aging Well

Does Your Patient's Health Plan Offer Post-Discharge Meals?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 17, 2017 11:50:33 AM

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Case managers and discharge planners have many things to consider before their patients return home after a hospitalization.  You may not be aware that some healthcare plans now offer nutrition care benefits for post-discharge patients.

Benefits of Nutrition Care

 Post-discharge patients can benefit from nutrition care in several ways:
  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risks of complications
  • Reduces hospital readmissions
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Increases overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic disease

After discharge, patients experience symptoms such as decreased energy, pain, weakness, poor appetite and health-related dietary restrictions. These symptoms can make preparing nutritious meals difficult. Home-delivered meals allow patients to have nutritious easy-to-prepare meals and remain independent in their homes.

Reduce Readmission Rates

A recent study shows low food security has a big impact on hospital readmissions. The study indicates the cause of food security for post-discharge patients includes:

  • 75 percent were unable to shop for food on their own
  • 58 percent were unable to prepare their own food
  • 30 percent were low or very low food secure
  • 25 percent were marginally food secure

Discharge Planning

Many transitional care plans are missing an important component – nutrition care. Providing access to food allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy faster. Proper nutrition for those at risk improves patient outcomes following surgery or a hospitalization. Studies show nutrition assistance with home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Many health plans are adding home-delivered meals for seniors to the supplemental benefits.

Post-Discharge meals can help in several ways:

  • Improve patient's long-term health
  • Impact patient's short-term recovery
  • Maximize patient outcomes
  • Reduce costs

For more information, download our whitepaper, Transitional Care: is Your Model Missing a Key Component? 

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Topics: Healthcare Cost Reduction, Medicare, Post Discharge, Care Managers

No Place Like Home - Aging in Place for Seniors

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 10, 2017 10:22:19 AM

Senior Couple at home.jpgAccording to  The National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC), more than 90 percent of older adults prefer to stay in their homes rather than move to a senior facility. One of the challenges you face as a case manager is helping seniors to age in place. People want to stay in their homes because they are most comfortable with what is familiar. 

Senior Nutrition

Malnutrition affects approximately 50 percent of older adults. Malnutrition in older adults can lead to higher healthcare costs, more frequent hospital admissions, and longer hospital stays. Since appetites can decrease with age, many seniors skip meals. This can make them more at risk for malnutrition. Health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be the result of a poor diet.

Aging causes the metabolism to slow down, resulting in the need for fewer calories. Seniors need to eat wholesome, balanced meals daily. They should also avoid processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar and fat.

Home-Delivered Meals 

Preparing meals may be difficult after a hospitalization or for those with chronic disease. This can be especially hard for those suffering from fatigue or limited mobility. Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, helps older adults live more independently. Seniors will have the reassurance of receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home.

  • Home-delivered meals, after a hospitalization, may significantly reduce nutrition-related complications. 
  • Home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes.

Studies show that home-delivered meals significantly improve diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk.

As a home-delivered meal provider, GA Foods does more than deliver meals. They can be a second set of eyes and ears for case managers and care coordinators.  Field Service Representatives (FSRs) are trained to recognize potential issues when delivering meals to your members. If they identify any concerns, they contact the Customer Care Team with the information you need for follow-up. If it is an emergency situation, they will call 911 and make sure the Care Team contacts you immediately.   

Home-delivered meals may already be a benefit on your members' health plan. Home-delivered meals provide not only nutrition, but can increase the quality of life for those who wish to continue to be aging at home.

For more information, click on the image below to download our Aging in Place infographic:

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Nutrition Care, Care Managers, Aging Well, Senior Nutrition

Home-Delivered Meals - Safely Delivered!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on May 4, 2017 9:34:09 AM

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As a caregiver, you have many things to worry about. Food safety shouldn’t be one of them. When choosing a home-delivered meal provider, food safety and quality should be top priorities Selecting a provider that uses extensive food preparation safety procedures with a safe delivery model will provide peace of mind. 

Cold-Chain-Infographic_FINAL.jpgDon't Break the Chain

The “cold chain” process is one of the most effective and reliable methods of assuring food safety. This process ensures that food is maintained at temperatures that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can make you sick.  

The cold chain process transports perishable foods without using harmful preservatives and additives. This continuous cold chain ensures seniors will receive safe and healthy meals.

Here are some questions to ask when comparing home-delivered meal providers:

  • Is the food prepared fresh in an USDA-inspected facility?
  • Are the meals flash frozen to -19° F?
  • Is the food maintained in a cold storage at -10° F until delivery?
  • Is the food delivered to homes in specially-designed freezer trucks?
  • Do they have specially-trained drivers unpack meals and store them in freezer until ready to eat?

In-Home Meal Delivery

Some meal providers use third-party carriers, while others use their own employees. According to Consumer Reports, the number one complaint Americans had about meal delivery services was food that arrived spoiled, melted, or inedible.  When exploring home-delivery options, you may want to think about who will be making the delivery:

Here are some things to look for:

  • Drivers who wear uniforms and ID badges to readily identify themselves.
  • Drivers that undergo extensive background checks.
  • Delivery people who perform basic in-home observations. Some are trained and will alert case managers if they observe any unusual or life-threatening situations.
  • Frozen meals should never be left at the door. A reliable company will make arrangements to redeliver the food at a more convenient time. 

 GA Foods has been providing nutrition to seniors for over 40 years. They maintain control of the entire food preparation and delivery process. This further ensures the quality and safety of the food, and provides additional assurance to caregivers and families. You may also want to ask if the meals are suitable for diabetics and those with heart conditions. Meals that are low in sodium, sugar, and fat are best.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, helps older adults live more independently. Seniors will appreciate receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home by a familiar and friendly face!

Download this eBook to learn more about how to choose a home-delivered meal provider. 

 Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Nutrition, Home Delivered Meals, The Cold Chain, Food Safety, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior Nutrition

Can Post-Discharge Meals Improve Patient Outcomes?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Apr 5, 2017 11:00:00 AM

discharge-meals.jpgWhen patients go into the hospital, one thing they may not expect is to leave malnourished. But, that is exactly what occurs to one-third of patients admitted to hospitals. Malnutrition is not always recognized and often goes untreated during hospitalization. Weight loss and poor nutritional intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This may lead to more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relaspse and readmission.

Disease-associated malnutrition is a common and widespread problem. Older adults are especially at risk. Clinical evidence shows that solid, well-balanced nutrition is essential to health. The effects of poor nutritional status are evident in those who were recently hospitalized and recovering from an acute illness. Malnutrition in the frail and elderly is an important area of concern. Poor outcomes related to malnutrition, may occur:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Increased infection rate
  • Muscle wasting
  • Functional loss, resulting in more falls
  • Longer hospital stays
  • Higher readmission rates
  • Higher treatment costs
  • Increased mortality

Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes

Research shows that nutritional intervention has a positive impact on patient outcomes. Benefits include:

  • 25 percent reduction in pressure ulcer incidence
  • 14 percent fewer overall complications
  • 28 percent decrease in avoidable readmissions
  • 2-day reduction in average length of stay

The Alliance to Advance Patient Nutrition recommends taking action to improve patient outcomes. Here are some steps: 

  • Recognize and diagnose all patients at risk for malnutrition.
  • Rapidly implement nutrition interventions and continue to monitor patients..
  • Develop a discharge plan for patient nutrition care and education. 

Post-Discharge Planning

Many transitional care plans are missing an important component – nutrition care. Providing access to food allows the frail and elderly to regain their strength and energy faster. Proper nutrition for those at risk improves patient outcomes following surgery or a hospitalization.

Many health plans are adding home-delivered meals for seniors to the supplemental benefits. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery results and the long-term health of patients. 

For more information, download our ebook, The Impact of Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes.

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Post Discharge

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