Are Nursing Homes Suffering a Disconnect from the Health Revolution?
Tricia Knaack, MSPA
The world has entered a personal health information age where websites and personal nutrition apps guide people through healthier daily routines. This health renaissance has been ushered in by a crisis epidemic of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and associated diseases. The elderly in nursing care today are the early victims of the same epidemic that has ignited today’s health sea change in health awareness.
Unfortunately, on their own, the elderly have few resources to guide them toward life saving personal health awareness. Are nursing home medical staff and residents paying a price for being left out of the health revolution?
A 2004 survey of 99 medical schools found that only one-third of medical schools offered a distinct nutrition class. In the same study, 80% of surveyed medical school faculty expressed a need for more nutrition training for doctors.
Most studies show that doctors believe themselves to be under-trained in nutrition. Given the more limited training of nurses at the BSN, the RN, and LPN levels, it is likely that there are few nursing home personnel with a working knowledge of elderly nutrition. Registered dietitians provide critical resources to nursing homes but their role in nursing care is often channeled away from either substantive individual consultation with residents or systematic patient or staff education.
This leaves nursing care residents disconnected from the empowerment that could lead to more healthful lives. With the internet as a further electronic barrier for those residents unable to use a smart phone or a computer, nursing home residents find themselves living behind an information curtain while the rest of the world is moving on toward to better nutrition awareness, healthier self-management and reduced medical costs.