Shared by Noël Kelly, Western District Health Service Dietitian
The Grange Residential Care Service is one of four aged care campuses operated by Western District Health Service (WDHS). Located in the township of Hamilton in the Southern Grampians Shire, the Grange provides permanent and respite accommodation for 50 residents.
The innovative Red Flag Program was a collaboration between the WDHS Nutrition & Dietetics department and Grange team, and was developed and trialled in 2017. The aim of the program was to ensure residents maintain an optimum weight while in residential aged care. Residents at risk of weight loss or who were malnourished received a small red flag on meal trays, indicating they required extra care and assistance at meal times. Additionally, nourishing mid meal options were included in the program to optimise nutrition between meals for those with small appetites.
The results of the six month trial showed a reduction of the average monthly weight loss referrals by 57%. Due to the success of the trial, the Red Flag Program was fully implemented at the beginning of 2018. Red flag residents are included in nursing handover and there has been ongoing improvements to mid meal options, which now includes items such as citrus tarts, mini quiches and hot chocolate at afternoon tea.
A resident-lead initiative was the request for kabana and cheese, previously an afternoon tea item, to be included in a daily, group happy hour. Baking sessions are also now part of the leisure and lifestyle program once a fortnight, producing afternoon tea and special event items. The residents have very much enjoyed being involved in the changes and offering tips, as well as taste testing the final product!
Throughout the year they have been able to sustain the improvements achieved during the trial, which further demonstrates its success. Grange staff continue to strive for excellence in nutritional care of their residents. The Red Flag Program has shown that small changes can make a big difference to a resident’s food experience and can even lead to further initiatives.