One of the main contributing factors to seniors entering – and re-entering – long-term care facilities is diet and nutrition. In fact, malnutrition is a growing problem that affects hundreds of thousands of seniors every day and is the number one cause of readmission to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). However, recent studies have shown that facilities that make nutrition a top priority have improved prognoses and better patient outcomes. SNFs that make nutrition a top priority are not only likely to have healthier patients under their care, but happier ones, too. This is why personalized care is such an important component of running a successful and profitable assisted living facility. It is imperative that senior living providers and their staff take the time to optimize the nutrition of their residents and ensure they are getting the care and attention they need.
Why This Matters
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, U.S. states that have a high number of malnourished patients have 50% higher readmission rates within 30 days than states that make nutrition a priority. This is especially the case when it comes to seniors with cancer. For sick residents, nutrition is key to being strong enough to ensure cancer treatment options, such as chemotherapy and radiology. Seniors who are unhealthy and malnourished have a much higher chance of succumbing to their illness, instead of beating it.
This is why it is so important for SNF staff members to be educated on the signs and symptoms of malnutrition. In many cases, seniors come to assisted living facilities in a certain state and the staff has little to no prior knowledge of what they have been going through. Some residents have been on their own for quite awhile and unable to properly care for themselves, whereas others were neglected by caregivers or even loved ones. When a residents comes to your facility and appears weak, shows signs of weight loss, and is emotionally and mentally deprived, they may be malnourished.
The most important way to reduce readmission rates because of malnutrition is take a customized, focused approach to each and every resident. As the senior living industry continues to shift and adapt, it is imperative staff and SNF providers understand some of the most common ailments impacting their residents. While many seniors enter long-term care facilities because of age or conditions that cannot be helped, a large majority of them are malnourished and simply need to be supported and cared for in order to get back on their feet and moved into an independent living facility. If you would like to learn more about why nutrition is so important in senior living or are looking for investment opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact Shep Roylance of The JCH Group.