Hospitals face many challenges when patients are discharged. Some concerns include if patients understand their care plan and need for follow up appointments. Will your patients have access to healthy meals when they return home? What if they are unable to shop or prepare meals for themselves?
When patients go into the hospital, one thing they may not expect is to leave malnourished. But, that is what occurs to one-third of patients admitted to hospitals. Malnutrition is not always recognized and often goes untreated during hospitalization. Weight loss and inadequate nutritional intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This may lead to more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse 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.
Many transitional care plans are missing an essential 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 hospitalization. New research showed that patients and their caregivers want to feel cared for and cared about by their medical providers.
Providing home-delivered meals will show you care about your patients after they leave the hospital. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery results and the long-term health of patients. You want your patients to have a perception of trust and feel they received excellent care. Provide them the peace of mind with home-delivered meals.
For more information, download our ebook, The Impact of Nutrition Care and Patient Outcomes.