MUST SEE: Checklist as a New Long Term Care Dietitian

If you are a new long term care Dietitian this article is a MUST READ! I will give you a checklist of everything you need to get set up when starting out as a new long term care Dietitian!

I have found checklists to be the number 1 way to be efficient in your practice. Plus there is something about checking something off your list that makes you feel incredibly accomplished. So get a notebook and get ready to start.

New Long Term Care Dietitian: Why Have a Checklist?

  • Organized! There will be SO many patients, tasks, meetings, MDS, etc, to keep up with
  • Prioritize your tasks during your time at your facility, there is a lot to do but some things will have to wait.
  • Checklists will help you keep track of the different assessments, meetings with staff and family, meetings with management, education time, and more…
  • Audits whether they are provincial or state are INCREDIBLY important

Step 1: Meet the Right People

  • Meet with the management team members.
    Sit down with the CEO first. Sit down with them and find out what their expectations of you are.
    Ask the following questions:

    Is part of your job is education for the staff?
    Can you get time off work to attend education events?
    Are there budget constraints you need to know about?
    Is there room to increase your hours when needed?
    Who do you answer to, if you have an issue who do you report to?
    How did their last state/provincial audit go?

    These are all VERY important questions to have right from Day 1.
  • Meet with the Nursing Managers individually.
    Ask the following questions:

    How were things with the previous RD?
    Were there any issues? Are there any areas of improvement?
    How are things with the nutrition and food services department?
    How is communication done between the RD and Nursing?
    What can you do to help make their jobs easier?

    Establish healthy relationships & good communication with the Nursing department.
    Get to know the Nurses that you will be working with and the Health Care Aides, they will know the residents better than anyone in that building.
  • Meet with the Nutrition and Food Services Director
    Have a separate meeting with the Nutrition Supervisors, people are more honest when its one-on-one.

    Ask the following questions:

    How were things with the previous RD?
    Where would they like to see improvements?

    Find the exact process on how they want you to submit nutrition changes.

    You need to understand how the department runs in all areas.

    You need to understand the changes that you make in a residents care plan, if it can be done by the department in a realistic way.

    You should ask to shadow the Director and department to understand this.
  • Have the Nutrition and Food Services Director set up a meeting with their department.

    Set up a short 20-minute meeting where you introduce yourself.
    Keep your part brief, the point of this meeting is to get to know the staff, know their names and what their jobs are.
    Then leave an open floor forum. Likely they won’t share too much yet, but you’re setting up for a future relationship where they can talk to you and you can work together.

    Trust me, you will need favours from them in the future and you want to have a good dynamic with them.

Step 2: Get Your Patient Lists Set Up

  • Develop a list of your residents. You may be fortunate and the previous RD left you one, so in that case review the list.
    If you can print a list off from some resource (Sysco – Synergy program, MDS, etc), but make sure the list is up to date.
  • The Patient list will contain the following information:

    Name, Room Number, Diet Type (Standard, Low Salt, etc), Diet Texture, Fluid Viscosity, Allergies (food related), Special considerations for their meal (Vegan only at supper, likes hot chocolate everyday at breakfast, won’t eat lunch, etc.), Likes/Dislikes, Adaptive equipment needed during meal, level of assistance needed at meals.

    There shouldn’t be anything about their food and meals that you don’t know about. You should have this compiled in one finely tuned list.

    You can find a great and FREE example of a spreadsheet to use by clicking here.
  • Have a central binder where you have your spreadsheet printed out, resources that you will need (audits, nutrition assessment forms, communication slips interdepartmental, etc).

    You will carry this binder with you everywhere, it will be your lifeline and make your life so much easier.

    You won’t need to look around and check multiple areas, you will have all the nutrition information needed on hand. You will be asked questions all the time about a residents diet and it’s helpful to have it with you.
  • Keep a separate sheet of the patients weights.

    I like to keep 12 months of their weights in my spreadsheet.
    Again, this will be time consuming! But it is WORTH IT. It will make your assessments of residents easy.

    Plus when family members come to you as you sit at the Nursing desk trying to get work done and want an update on their loved one, you have it right with you.
    This saves you from constantly having to get back to someone. This spreadsheet is easy for you to update every month too.

    You can find another great and FREE weight spreadsheet to use that auto calculates changes here.
  • A formatted sheet with follow up dates/communication/charting notes, etc.

    Write in any and all things I have done in regards to residents. If you changed a diet texture, write the residents name/room number and what occurred.

This checklist for new long term care Dietitians will help you get started. I guarantee you that this will be time consuming. If the previous RD didn’t have stuff like this, then yes, it will take you a couple weeks to complete.
But I promise you that it will help your practice as an RD in your facility.

You will likely need to go through charts to find the information, and check the the nutrition department to ensure that the diet they’re serving is what’s being served, but once you have it all set up, it will be smoother sailing after.

So start there!

Being organized is SO SO SO important to practicing as a long term care Dietitian. I can’t even tell you how many times my binders have saved me.

They have made my practice much more efficient, made communication with staff and family members so easy, and saved me time doing annual assessments, etc. Even if you have computer charting, it still helps if you have your own list.

You are solely responsible for the area of nutrition, so relying on your own information is best.

I really recommend that all new long term care Dietitians get individual training. It’s a lot to learn and usually a facility gives very little training.

If you want this individual help – good news you can find it at the Long Term Care!

Did you know that I offer one-on-one Clinical Dietitian training for ANY new Dietitian to Clinical Practice??

That’s right, you can have access to chat with me anytime to get guidance on clinical nutrition, workplace issues, and more!

Find out more by clicking on the picture below!

new long term care dietitian
Michelle saari dietitian
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Michelle Saari is a Registered Dietitian based in Canada. She has a Master's Degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and is a passionate advocate for spreading easy to understand, reliable, and trustworthy nutrition information. She is currently a full time online entrepreneur with two nutrition focused websites.

7 thoughts on “MUST SEE: Checklist as a New Long Term Care Dietitian”

  1. Very helpful information here! These spreadsheets are great, especially the weight one that automatically calculates weight change percentages. How do I use these spreadsheets? They are in “view only” mode when I open them up on my google drive. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for the great information! I’m new to the LTC population but have been an ICU RD for 13 years. I love spreadsheets to stay organized. One question about keeping them in a binder. Do you then print out changes daily? Would it be easier to just keep information in a laptop you carry with you? Thanks!

    1. Welcome to the LTC club Stefania!
      I definitely kept mine up to date on my laptop, but once a week I would print them out and provide vital information to my units. It completely depends though on the type of work you’re doing. If you carry your laptop around all day and work off of that, then there likely isn’t a reason to print it off. I printed mine off because I liked to have all my patient information at my finger tips when I was on units. Throughout the week I would mark up my paper copy and ensure at the end of the week that all the changes I made to nutrition care plans was updated in the computer. When it comes to Surveys/Audits, it’s critical that you know what is going on with all your patients and make sure records are kept up to date. Whatever method you find works best is great, there’s no set method.

  3. Pingback: Resource: Resident Nutrition Information – All the Info For Audits!

  4. Pingback: Resource: Resident Nutrition Information – All the Info For Audits! – Long Term Care Nutrition

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