OMNI adopting International Dysphagia Diet Framework to enhance mealtime quality

Framework aims to increase resident safety and food intake as well as provide consistency

As part of its effort to continuously enhance quality across the organization, OMNI Health Care is adopting the International Dysphagia Diet Framework in its 18 long-term care homes.

The implementation will begin in January and the process is expected to be complete by January 2019.

Dysphagia, the medical term for term for swallowing difficulty, is a common condition among residents living in long-term care homes. The condition affects an estimated eight per cent of the general population, according to the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI), the organization that created the framework.

“By adopting the IDDSI framework, we are endeavouring to provide the highest level of quality and safety for residents with swallowing difficulties,” explains Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service.

“By providing safe, nutritious and consistent textures, evidence has shown a substantial increase of food intake is possible. Safety, increased intake and consistency are the ultimate goals of the IDDSI framework. OMNI is taking a front-seat approach to this initiative.”

Weber says the families of residents with dysphagia living in OMNI long-term care homes should know that safety and improved health outcomes through proper nutrition are the primary benefits their loved ones will garner from OMNI adopting the framework.

Because of the prevalence of dysphagia worldwide and the fact that countries have different terminology for describing the thickness of texture modified foods, IDDSI has created a common language for classifying thickness levels in its framework.

At the core of the framework is an eight-level scale, numbered zero to seven, measuring the thickness of meals. Zero refers to thin liquids, like water or fruit juices; Level 7 is regular food.

Everyone involved with OMNI long-term care homes, including staff, families and volunteers, will in some way be involved in the implementation of the framework, Weber says, adding “everyone must have an understanding of the IDDSI framework to ensure its ultimate success.”

As part of the implementation process, each OMNI home will have an IDDSI team led by a designated IDDSI expert, most likely the nutritional care manager, who will communicate updates and education to all stakeholders.

The team will also have an IDDSI trainer whose role will be to teach others about the testing and evaluation of food thickness levels. There will also be an IDDSI committee of multidisciplinary staff members, both front line and management, across most departments. Their role will be to inform and lead team members within each department.

“OMNI is fortunate to have such great quality people across our organization, that we are perfectly poised and proud to lead the charge in this exciting new initiative,” Weber says.

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