According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, each March is designated as National Nutrition Month. Food is our anchor to life and the importance of nutrition is elevated in the elderly, chronically ill, and hospice patients.

Traditionally, these heightened nutritional needs for hospice patients have been addressed by the RN case manager and managed accordingly. Malnutrition is at epidemic proportions and is generally under-recognized as a disease. Studies confirm that up to 50% of hospitalized patients are malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented new rules requiring nutrition care as patients transition across care settings. Malnutrition—if not identified and treated—results in impaired immunity, loss of muscle mass and weakness, risk of pressure ulcers and delayed wound healing, and altered gastrointestinal structure and function. All of these can lead to apathy or depression in both the patient and caregivers.

Palladium Hospice and Palliative Care has recognized the need for a clinical nutrition program to provide care to patients along with education for health care professionals and caregivers. The program is led by a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist who is on staff and available to all staff, patients and caregivers. The Hospice Patients Alliance states that “hospice dietitians assist the patient in achieving the best nutritional intake possible given the current state of his or her health.” A nutrition professional who has experience in helping with challenges to eating in the terminally ill population can create a compassionate End of Life Care Plan honoring the patient and family wishes.

At Palladium, we see that integrating nutrition therapy and offering it to each patient as part of their care can fill a void that is often overlooked. Our staff RDN can provide:

  • Nutrition assessment including: appetite, intolerances and allergies, previous special diets, restrictions to accommodate swallowing and dentition issues, cultural and religious factors, educational needs and food preference
  • Advice on Nutritional Supplements and food preparation suggestions to maximize intake
  • Tips on managing gastrointestinal side effects of treatments
  • Management and monitoring of artificial nutrition and hydration including administration and care of feeding tubes
  • General nutrition education for staff, patients and families
  • Education for end of life feeding and hydration decisions including reviewing benefits and when to stop feeding
  • Attending care planning and even making home visits if needed

The goal of Palladium’s nutritional program is to guide patients and families to help them provide coordinated nutritional care. Always keep in mind the patient’s wishes and best interests, but consider Palladium to take advantage of the expertise offered in this unique program.

For more information contact Lynne Holly, RDN, LDN: , 864-568-6423