Workshop helps ease NCMs’ concerns surrounding implementation of IDDSI framework

‘I think everyone left feeling more comfortable with IDDSI, and I think that was a really big step forward for us’

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Chris Weber says the major successes stemming from a May 17 workshop focused on helping OMNI Health Care nutritional care managers (NCMs) implement the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework were that everyone left feeling less anxiety about the implementation process and managers got to see how IDDSI will look in their homes, once it’s adopted in 2019.

Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, says the workshop, which was hosted in Belleville by Seasons Care Inc., a dietitian company, lived up to its title of “Taking the Fear Out of IDDSI.”

“We really did eliminate a lot of the fear that people were experiencing,” Weber says. “For the first time, we were able to really look at how this is going to look in our homes. We looked at what menus are going to look like, what changes do we have to make to our current practices in order to adopt IDDSI.

“I think everyone left feeling more comfortable with IDDSI, and I think that was a really big step forward for us.”

Weber says the workshop was largely focused on testing the benefits of using the fork-pressure test and the spoon-tilt test, which are the two main testing methods for food thickness. The fork pressure test is used more for minced food, while the spoon tilt test is used primarily for pureed foods. A variety of minced and pureed food with different thickness levels was provided to the managers during the workshop.

Dysphagia, the medical 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 IDDSI website.

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 framework centred on a common language for classifying thickness levels. OMNI Health Care is in the process of adopting this 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.

To date, most of the work OMNI has been involved within the process of adopting the framework has been focused on its science, safety and rationale, but Weber wanted nutritional care managers to attend this workshop to focus on the framework’s implementation.

“This was the first real opportunity of its kind that we have had to look and talk about implementation,” Weber says.

Carol Donovan, president of Seasons Care, and Seasons Care corporate dietitian Stacey Scaman were the workshop’s facilitators. Representatives from OMNI corporate partners Sysco and Nestle Health Science were also on hand to provide support.

“Carol and Stacey did a phenomenal job. Their expertise is great, and we were very fortunate to have them (lead the workshop), and there was really good collaboration with industry partners we work with who were there to support OMNI,” Weber says.

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