Evaluation of a care home in the Republic of Ireland on the staff’s decision-making process of nutrition support for its residents for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition
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Background: Malnutrition currently affects approximately 145,000 adults in the Republic of Ireland. Malnutrition comes at a huge cost to the Health Service Executive (HSE) with healthcare costs estimated to be three times higher with malnourished patients. Future predictions propose that the cost to the HSE will continue to rise as a result of the ageing population in Ireland. It is estimated that by 2040, one in four Irish people will be over 65 in comparison to one in nine now. Malnutrition prevention strategies in the community such as the care home setting may help alleviate future burdens on the HSE and improve patient quality of life. The aim of this study was gain a greater insight into the decision making of nutrition support intervention of staff within a care home in the Republic of Ireland to evaluate the process of malnutrition prevention. Methods: A cross sectional study design was selected for the purpose of this study. Purposive sampling was used to gather a sample group of five staff members working within the care home, a care home manager, nursing staff and a member of the catering team. Results: Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts revealed the main themes of deciding on nutrition support in the care home depended on education and training, good communication, patient centered care and availability of nutrition support options. Conclusions: In conclusion, it is evident there is a lot of room for improving malnutrition education and food first initiatives within the care home setting. This small-scale study suggests it is imperative that pathways are in place across care home settings to combat the risk of malnutrition throughout the Republic of Ireland in view of the ageing population and anticipated pressure for the HSE in the coming years.
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