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New online ‘Health Call’ system to help prevent malnutrition in nursing homes

Nutritional needs of older clients can be remotely monitored

Registered Dietitian for the Southern Trust, Maria McCabe is working with Staff Nurse Eileen Valente from Avila Nursing Home, Bessbrook using the Health Call system to help improve nutritional care for clients like Kenneth McCamley.

A new online system is helping dietitians in the Southern Trust to prevent malnutrition amongst nursing home clients.

The ‘Health Call’ Under Nutrition Service is allowing the team to remotely monitor the nutritional needs of older clients, identifying those at risk and providing appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Mandy Gilmore, Head of Dietetics for the Southern Trust, explained: “Under nutrition is a particular concern for our increasing older population, specifically those with long term conditions.

“Our Nutrition and Dietetic Service supports around 3,900 older people across the community, which requires a lot of staff time to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable clients are met.

“The Health Call system has been a real benefit to our team, helping our Dietitians and Dietetic Support Workers to offer a more responsive service.

“With input from nursing home colleagues, it ensures that all clients are more thoroughly monitored, less nursing home visits are required and more timely alerts are raised for those patients who do require our intervention.”

Nursing Homes have also welcomed Health Call, reporting that the system is easy to use, saves staff time, has raised staff awareness of the importance of nutrition and improves overall nutritional care of clients.

Following an initial pilot of 11 nursing homes and recent evaluation of the system, Health Call is now used in 48 nursing homes across Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne.

Ms Gilmore added: “Through improved accuracy of recording and compliance of treatment, Health Call is helping us to improve patient safety.

“By identifying nutritional issues much earlier, we have reduced the need to prescribe oral supplements and prevent secondary consequences of malnutrition like falls or pressure sores. Most importantly, this overall improved nutritional wellbeing is helping to give our older clients a much better quality of life.”

Eddie Ritson, Programme Director of the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care at the Public Health Agency, said: “This initiative by the Southern Trust, which we have been pleased to support, is an excellent example of how relatively simple, modern-day technologies can be utilised by health and social care professionals to improve the quality and efficiency of services which they provide to maintain people’s health and wellbeing in the home environment.

“We are working with the Southern Trust, with the other Health and Social Care Trusts, and with GPs, to develop similar cost-effective initiatives.”

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