CONSULTANT DIETITIANS IN LONG-TERM CARE OFFER FINANCIAL ADVANTAGES AND POSITIVE RESIDENT OUTCOMES
The long-term care industry is faced with many challenges. Learn how consultant dietitians can improve compliance and budgets.
Nearly 90% of facilities receive some type of survey deficiency with food safety being the first or second most common citation according to most recent data.1
Many facilities operate on thin financial margins with Medicaid shortfalls reaching $7.7 billion nationally.2
Facilities are finding losses of $500 to just over $1500/resident stay due to missed diagnoses, of both malnutrition and obesity with the initiation of the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM).3
Faced with consumer complexities, shrinking budgets, and meeting regulatory requirements many skilled long-term care facilities are having to do more with less. Daily responsibilities associated with caring for residents makes it difficult to keep staff up-to-date on regulations as well as trends and practices in foodservice operations.
Consultant dietitians have the qualifications, varied experience, and flexibility to help overcome these challenges. They provide the skill set needed to oversee regulatory compliance, to provide proper nutritional care, and to help maximize reimbursement along with determining ways to reduce expenses. Consultant dietitians understand foodservice and safety along with the specialized challenges residents of all abilities and disease-states face. Many have years of experience in management along with clinical expertise. They have run a kitchen, purchased food, planned menus and understand food and supply costs. Consultant dietitians also offer the advantage of working with numerous facilities and can offer advice based on experience. They bring outside eyes that are there to coach, not penalize.
State requirements for licensing of skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s) include the minimum level of dietitian coverage and although it varies, a minimum of eight hours per month is not uncommon. These minimums are set with the understanding that more hours may be needed, dependent on the duties assigned to the consultant as well as the level of residential care needed in each facility. A consultant can provide these services while remaining flexible, by adjusting their time based on a facility census or resident acuity fluctuations. Partnering with a reliable, experienced consulting company comes with a team of experts; a facility doesn’t receive one dietitian, but a company of dietitians. Facilities are not responsible for finding dietitian coverage during vacations, leave of absences, or when a dietitian resigns. The burden of keeping dietitians trained or equipped with updated computers is also placed in the hands of consultants versus on the facility. Undeniably, consultant dietitians have the qualifications, varied experience, and flexibility to strike the balance of providing value beyond the minimum requirements without adding a full-time salary to a facility’s payroll.
With advancements in technology and the use of electronic medical records, consultants can be more a part of the team than ever. They can easily be reached and provide service in between onsite visits to the facility through Telenutrition/Telehealth. Consultant dietitians achieve the balance of providing value and cost saving measures to optimize positive nutrition outcomes by bringing both the expertise and adaptability that is essential for the evolving future of long-term care.
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3 Courtney, Vince. “PDPM: Make Sure Your Dietitian Is Contributing to Your Bottom Line.” BSN Solutions, 7 Feb. 2020, www.bsnsolutions.net/pdpm-make-sure-your-dietitian-is-contributing-to-your-bottom-line.