In this week’s blog I would like to take you behind the scenes to look at how we support those in our care who might need help to gain or maintain weight.
When a person is of a healthy weight they tend to better recover from illness or surgery and are slightly more resilient than those who are under or very overweight.
Addressing weight loss
Weight loss can be common in older generations because of illness or a loss in appetite due to living at home alone or having experienced extended time in hospital. If either situation has occurred a person might come to a Nellsar Care Home for respite or to live permanently and can sometimes arrive with us underweight.
Within the first stages of arrival at a Nellsar Home, we assess the resident’s weight and BMI to check if they are underweight and might require some extra calories in their diet to help them to maintain or to build up and gain some pounds.
Food preferences and fortification
The first thing our teams establish are personalised food preferences and offer small portions of a person’s favourite foods to help them build an appetite.
When a person requires extra calories in their diet, we use something known as food first fortification. This means that we add in extra calories to meals for those who need to gain weight by using calorie-rich foods.
(NHS Nutrition and Hydration resource pack for care homes 2017)
You will notice that much of the fortification advice here is very dairy heavy. We recommend dairy-free options for those who are vegan or have a dairy intolerance or allergy.
Vegans do not eat eggs, dairy products or honey, and many of the food items commonly used to fortify food may not be suitable. Useful plant-based alternatives are illustrated below:
How to fortify vegan meals:(NACC Menu Planning and Dining in Care Homes page 60)
Person-centred Nutrition at Nellsar
Much of my job as a Nutrition Specialist in Care is to think outside the box and find solutions to support a person’s individualised health and well-being.
If a resident might need support with their diet due to weight loss, but is not yet eligible for a GP or dietician referral, then our Nellsar staff can contact me at any time to make an assessment or to advise on methods of support for those with extra nutritional needs.