Team Approach to NutritionBy AccentCare | March 01, 2022
Your hospice care team is made of individuals who provide you with specialized care. While each team member has an area of expertise, we coordinate the care we provide to assure we meet you and your loved ones’ needs. With March recognized as National Nutrition Month®, let’s bring to the forefront the ways each member of your team can help address your nutrition concerns.
Our hospice nurses are here to begin the discussions about food and nutrition during end of life. They will provide education regarding safe consistency of food and beverages, preventing aspirations, and tube feeding administration. Our RN case managers are responsible for pulling in other disciplines to help address ongoing nutrition issues, such as the registered dietitian, medical doctor, medical social worker, or chaplain, if they are not already involved.
A registered dietitian is available as part of your care team to address all things nutrition. This includes discussing end of life as it relates to the body’s metabolism and learning the signs/symptoms that the body is no longer desiring food. The dietitian can help you develop a nutrition plan of care to encompass the wishes of your loved one as it relates to nutrition interventions. Interventions may include changing tube feeding formulas, withholding tube feedings, initiating comfort feedings, or maximizing intake when possible. You and your loved one will determine which interventions are most appropriate and will be communicated to the entire team.
Your team’s chaplain can help you and your loved one with ethical and cultural decisions surrounding nutrition care. If your loved one has expressed specific wishes related to artificial nutrition/hydration, the chaplain can help your family respect those wishes.
The social worker plays a role in helping your loved one with securing access to food. Your loved one may struggle with food insecurity. Our social workers can help provide community resources where you can find affordable pantry staples. If your loved one can no longer handle meal preparation, our social worker can assist in finding community meal.
Achieving adequate nutrition intake is challenging during end of life. When this occurs, we may encourage a family to shift toward comfort foods rather than focusing on the nutrition profile of meals. Additionally, we can provide other comforting activities rather than focusing on food. This is where our music therapists play a role by providing beautiful melodies and engaging your loved one with music.
Your medical doctor is available as an additional level of support to address any of your concerns regarding nutrition and appropriate interventions for your loved one.
Your AccentCare hospice team is here to provide multi-dimensional support and a myriad of resources to help you and your loved one. As each team member provides specialized care to your loved one, we each are here to support your loved ones’ nutritional concerns during their hospice journey.