Malnutrition screening among elderly people in a community setting: a best practice implementation project

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Abstract

Background

The prevalence of malnutrition in older adults within the community is high and presents a major cost to the health care system. Overlooking malnutrition is concerning because this is an aspect of health care that greatly impacts on quality of life. Community care based organizations are in the ideal position to address this issue. The implementation of routine malnutrition screening amongst community care clients may assist with improving the nutritional status of individuals within the community and subsequently assist with achieving better health outcomes.

Objectives

To promote evidence based practice in relation to the nutritional management of malnutrition for Anglicare clients in the community.

Methods

An organizational audit was conducted across four service Zones within the Anglicare Sunshine Coast branch. The method was in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute's Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System and Getting Research into Practice tools. A three phase process of change was followed using a baseline audit, feedback and re-audit cycle to implement evidence based practice.

Results

The baseline audit revealed poor compliance with malnutrition screening and implementation of action plans. Following the implementation phase there was significant improvement in compliance across all criteria.

Conclusions

Overall this implementation project has been a great success. It has achieved the aim of promoting evidence based practice in relation to nutritional management of malnutrition. Follow-up audit data indicates malnutrition screening of new clients at admission occurred almost 100% of the time compared to 50% at baseline.

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