There needs to be more support for increased awareness of the low percentage of hospital discharge reports that included Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) dietary, medication, postural and other professional recommendations
I recently hosted and participated in on an online dysphagia conference conducted by ASHA (http://www.asha.org/) the leading organization for speech language pathology. Its recent conference discussed a Transitional Care study by author Amy Kind focused on the dangerously low percentage of recommendations made by SLP’s that were included in hospital discharge papers.
Presenters included Jacqueline Hind, MS, CCC-SLP, BRS-SUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, Wm. S. MiddletonMemorial Veterans Hospital.
The study revealed the following:
- SLP notes: averaged 5.6 recommendations
- Hospital D/C notes: averaged 1.4 recommendations
- All Hospital D/C notes omitted:
- 47% Dietary
- 82% Postural
- 95% Medication
- 79% Care Provider
- 100% Environment
- 45% Overall
With the aging population, it is more important than ever to create awareness and education about swallowing issues for professionals including physicians and hospital discharge planners as well as private caregivers. Speech Language Pathologists are specialists in swallowing issues and their recommendations are crucial for a patient when they return home or to another facility.Omitting critical recommendations must end.
When a caregiver takes over the care of a loved one, advice from professionals is a necessary step to helping the patient heal. Especially if they never experienced caregiving before. Patients can’t heal on liquid supplements alone. When a caregiver leaves the hospital, they need to ask the discharge planner if they included all the professional advice in their discharge notes. We can’t count on everything being included based on this study.
I created my brand, Smoothe Foods to cater to those who have swallowing conditions with my line of pureed soft foods that are easy to swallow, as well as delicious, convenient and nutritional. When my father left the hospital, no one gave my family any nutritional advice. It amazes me how nutrition is always omitted as unimportant. It is even more important when someone is ill.
With our Aging & Ill Population, there are a myriad of conditions that cause adults to need pureed foods. For the 15 million people who have Dysphagia (swallowing issues), coupled with the millions who have chewing and digestive issues, access to pureed foods is imperative to sufficient nutritional status. Bear in mind, these statistics do not include those in the post-bariatric community. They need pureed foods for about 11 weeks after surgery. Even with this great need, we do not see one pureed meal brand in retail! Conversely, grocery and drug store chains, such as Whole Foods and CVS, offer 3-6 baby food brands for babies. What is retail waiting for? Why are they so reluctant to take on a new product category that will serve millions more in need? This is disgraceful and exposes a great bias in our country against this population. How can we change this? Our country needs to respect and take care of our elderly and ill. This underserved market has the least choice of foods in the nation. What will it take to help this community? They should no longer be a silent majority of sufferers. Kimberly-Clark (the maker of Depends adult diapers) did wonders for people with incontinence. They set them free to continue to explore the world instead of being housebound to avoid being embarrassed in public. Why do the diseases and conditions with huge charities that fund huge staffs get all the attention? Everyone else is invisible. Retail needs to pay attention to the changing needs of this under-served demographic. It is time to help and honor the people that suffer with these conditions. The media is also guilty. I have yet to see even one pureed meal recipe on a cooking show or food magazine. So, what will it take?
So I have tried to get a delicious option of pureed meals into U.S. supermarkets and drug stores to no avail. They offer absolutely no pureed meals for our elderly & ill. Even though caregivers need another convenient choice for their loved ones, retail keeps ignoring. this demographic. They would rather add a 30th choice of frozen gluten free bread or another $8 fruit drink.
Yet, there are more people who need pureed food than babies eating baby food. You will see dozens of choices of baby food at these markets too.
And of course hospitals & nursing homes want the cheapest food and are not that interested in taste nor if the patient eats. As long as they show they served it they can write it up that the patient did not want to eat. When in fact either the person cannot eat the solid food they are served (since they were not diagnosed for a pureed food diet) or they are served pureed foods that are so tasteless they cannot stomach it.
A couple months ago I received a call from a business owner in Ireland looking for another better tasting option to add to their repertoire of pureed meals for their elderly & ill. I was flabbergasted! Why does Ireland care about their elderly & ill more than we do? Talk about discrimination, our elderly & ill suffer through it every day.
Of course we are a start-up and our export costs would not work at this time. He renewed my faith that there are people who care. My hope is that there are retailers out there who aren’t just another sheep following the herd. We just have yet to find them here..