nutritionist discusses dietary plan with patient

The Role of a Nutritionist in Post-Acute Care Settings

The health and recovery patients require when receiving post-acute care is heavily dependent on eating the right types of food. Food and nutrition is a complex field of study, especially when the quality of patient care is reliant on patients getting the right types of nutrients while avoiding other dietary options. 

Working together with a rehabilitation team means taking a vast number of factors into consideration. The types of foods and liquids a nutritionist prescribes will reflect a patient’s allergies, age, medical condition, family health history, and more.  

Nutritionists Offer Specialized Dietary Counseling

In healthcare settings, nutritionists are key players when assisting with post-acute care. They are an irreplaceable part of a patient’s recovery strategy. Nutritionists study the biochemistry of the human body and how it reacts with all types of nutrients in order to prescribe a post-acute care action plan. 

Nutritionists offer specialized dietary counseling perfectly tailored to suit each individual and their rehab needs. Older adults are vulnerable to dietary impacts experienced during post-hospitalization. The right combination of certain foods and liquids greatly affects overall recovery time. 

The Role of Nutrition on Post-Acute Care Recovery

The body undergoes tremendous stress when enduring a traumatic injury, surgery or other medical treatment. In order to assist with a full recovery, the body relies heavily on its nutritional intake. Nutritionists work with patients in skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, or in the comfort of their own homes. They work to treat and monitor progress alongside a team of medical professionals.

What Nutritionists Look for When Treating Patients

Despite how healthy an older adult is at the time of injury or illness, professional oversight from a qualified nutritionist remains imperative. Regaining full recovery from surgery or illness is the best way patients can reduce the risk of rehospitalization. Nutritionists treat patients with consideration to how they are responding and the effects certain foods and liquids have on their recovery.

A qualified nutritionist working in post-acute care settings will identify and treat the following:

  • Slower metabolisms that reduce the body’s ability to absorb key nutrients
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of the sense of taste and smell
  • Low energy 
  • Diminished physical activity
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Mental health decline including depression and anxiety

Foods are medicinal in their ability to naturally assist with recovery efforts. A nutritionist is able to identify areas where a patient needs to change their dietary plan in order to improve their health and wellbeing. Although this list is not exhaustive, it offers a good idea of the scope of post-acute care patients may expect from their nutritionist. 

Advancing Post-Acute Care Progress Through Nutrition

Post-acute care settings are intended to bridge the gap between a patient’s hospital visit and returning to their normal home environment. Returning home too quickly after the hospital has its risks. It often increases the likelihood of re-injury and readmission. The alternative option of post-acute care is growing in popularity to reduce this risk. Many healthcare workers recommend post-acute care as a way to ensure proper rehabilitation and a safer long-term recovery.

A team of varied medical professionals work alongside patients receiving post-acute care. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in the efforts made to help patients return to their homes without risk of reinjury and subsequent hospital visitations. Dietary oversight includes making necessary modifications for patients during their post-acute care treatment to adjust for any changing needs. 

These common nutritional improvements are made for recovering older adults:

  • Making food flavorful for diminished taste buds 
  • Designing nutrient rich meals throughout the day
  • Creating a variety of options to encourage those with low appetites
  • Encouraging a social dining experience to help with mental health
  • Increasing calorie total in smaller portions 
  • Adding supplements when necessary
  • Scheduling timing of snacks and meals with medications

Nutritionists in post-acute care facilities are mindful of various factors related to the dietary needs of a patient. Each patient responds differently and may require customized changes to their plan over the length of their recovery time. 

South Coast Post Acute is Southern California’s Premier Post-Acute Facility

South Coast Post Acute is dedicated to excellent client service to ensure quality medical care is received after a hospitalization for injury or illness. We take diligent precautionary measures to provide patients with the professional oversight and guidance necessary for each individual.

We are passionate about providing the highest level of care that you’ve come to expect from Southern California’s leading post-acute care provider. As you are evaluating post-acute facilities with your doctor and loved ones, we invite you to explore the benefits of South Coast Post Acute’s innovative care, experienced staff, and welcoming accommodations. 

Contact us today for more information on how we can help on your journey back to restored health.

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