Caring for every patient’s nutritional status is crucial when it comes to the role of a nurse. This is crucial for the nurse and their patient because the patient’s life could be in danger if they do not have a healthy diet or they are not provided with instructions on how to maintain a healthy diet. Every patient needs a different diet, and nurses need to be educated on what each of their patients need nutritionally to enhance their health and how to educate their patient on nutrition in a professional manner. Having a healthy nutrition status throughout our daily lives is very beneficial to our bodies. Healthy nutritional status promotes your growth status, your weight, avoiding any diseases, and in general just helps you maintain a healthy well-being. “Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for the prevention of obesity and noncommunicable diseases” (Patience, 2016, pg.1).
As a nurse in this situation trying to maintain a healthy diet for their patient that is struggling with their weight involves critical thinking, and they have to put their critical thinking skills into use. It is the nurse’s responsibility to make sure they are promoting their patient’s health and preventing their patient from becoming ill or potentially causing damage to their bodies. All patients need to maintain a healthy diet based on their health status because of certain illnesses. “Current UK population-level advice is to eat starchy high fiber foods, at least five portions of vegetables or fruit a day, some protein-rich foods, dairy, unsaturated fats and oils, and drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day” (Patience, 2016, pg.1). Nurses need to ensure that their patients are meeting these standards when intaking foods and fluids. Maintaining a patient’s diet in the hospital or any healthcare setting is very important in promoting recovery. “Most patients fail to meet minimum dietary requirements and up to fifty percent of patients are malnourished in hospitals” (Roberts et al, 2020, pg.1). This is why it is important for the nurse to be educated on proper nutrition and know how to relay the knowledge they know to each of their patients.
Malnutrition is a major problem within hospitals, and it is affecting twenty to fifty percent of patients throughout the entire nation (Roberts et al, 2020). Malnutrition is when the patient does not have enough intake of nutrients to maintain a healthy body weight and lifestyle. Patients that are malnourished are at a higher risk of infections, fall risks, longer stays in the hospital, and pressure injuries. Patients that have wound injuries and are malnourished risk making their healing process longer and can make their wound worse than what it is. Within hospitals there is a wide range of different patients and in that case it is sometimes hard for nurses to keep up on all their patients nutritional status. This is why it is important for nurses to communicate with nutritionists, and doctors about their patients health status and their nutrition.
Patients that are dealing with malnourishment can experience a lot of different symptoms. Some may experience a loss of appetite, tiredness, weakness, and some even experience a drop in temperature. “Organisational factors such as the hospital food service, mealtime environment and the way hospitals and staff provide nutrition care also impact patients’ nutrition” (Roberts et al, 2020, pg.2). These factor changes can be hard for a malnourished patient that was admitted to the hospital. It is important for the nurse to ensure their patient is comfortable in these new settings, and provide an appropriate mealtime environment.
Educating the Patient
When it comes to the nurse educating their patient on nutrition it is beneficial to have their patient participate in this education and promote participation. Nurses that have their patients participate in promoting their health can lead to major changes in their nutritional status, and will help them improve. “Preliminary research has shown that patient participation in nutrition care is a feasible and effective strategy for improving dietary intake in hospitals” (Roberts et al, 2020, pg.2). If the patient does not show any signs of wanting to improve their health or interest in wanting to participate then the nurse needs to find other ways to help the patient improve.
Nurses who set goals for their patients plays a key role in promoting their patients well-being. When nurses set goals for their patients it makes them feel more in charge and feel they have something to work towards. Setting goals for their patients can make them more motivated and increase their nutritional health. “Setting goals and objectives appropriately optimizes the learning intervention” (Seyedin et al, 2015, pg.4). Learning a new diet can be hard on a lot of patients which can lead to discouragement and intimidation. This is why it is important for nurses to ensure their patients stay positive throughout the learning process and be supportive.
Communication within this role of a nurse being an educator to their patients plays a big role within the health field. “Nurses in all settings have an opportunity to make every contact count, by giving patients the right information regarding a healthy diet” (Patience, 2016, pg.1). Nurses need to make it a priority to make each patient interaction beneficial by giving them the right information they need, and that means communicating in a professional manner. Communication is also very important between the nurse, nutrionist, and doctors. For example, if the nurse, nutrionist, and the doctor do not communicate, then the patient could be receiving different information from each health care provider.
The Nursing Process
When it comes to patient education within nutrition nurses need to use the nursing process to promote their patient’s health status. The nursing process involves five important steps that are assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. “Patient education aims to provide adequate and relevant clinical information, with the goal of increasing understanding of illness condition and health promoting behavior; it is considered as the most significant roles of hospitals that will lead to better patient outcome”(Seyedin et al, 2015, pg.1). The nursing process helps nurses provide the proper care to their patients in an organized order and a professional manner.
“The first step is assessing the patient’s learning needs, learning style, and readiness to learn” (Seyedin et al, 2015, pg.2). This is important because every patient has a different learning style, and nurses need to know how to teach their patients in a way that they will understand the information being given. The nurses patient needs to show a readiness to learn too, or the information that is being given to them will not be beneficial or be used correctly. The assessment phase is when the nurse collects information from their patient, whether it is subjective data or objective data. For example, a nurse that is meeting with their patient for their nutritional health at this point they would ask their patient about the food they eat, and document any nutritional physical findings. The nurse during her assessment with her malnutrition patient can also look for edema, weight history, look at the patients skin integrity, and look for any electrolyte embalances.
The diagnosis phase is the second step the nurse performs in the nursing process. The diagnosis phase is when the nurse would diagnos a malnutrition patient with anorexia. In order for the nurse to make a diagnosis for their patient they have to use critical thinking. Anorexia would be related to not having enough nutritional intake to maintain a healthy weight.
The planning phase is the third step in the nursing process, and this is where the nurse is coming up with a plan for their patient to improve their nutritional status. This can be long term or short term goals for their patients. At this point of the nursing process the nurse needs to come up with a plan to help a malnutrition patient. An example of a plan for a malnutrition patient would be the nurse coming up with long term and short term goals, and planning a diet for their patient. “A successful patient education program is dependent on a well-designed plan comprising of the goals and objectives of the educational process” (Seyedin et al, 2015, pg.2). The nurse can also include in the planning phase for their patient is to administer parenteral and enteral nutrition.
Implementation is the the fourth step the nurse puts into action when performing the nursing process. The implementation phase is crucial to the malnourished patient because this is where the nurse and her team will put the treatment they have come up with into action. Malnourished patients sometimes have a hard time with their body image, so it is important for the nurse to be supportive and promote their patients self esteem. The mind can play games on a malnourished patient’s brain, and this is why it is important for the nurse to implement therapy. Nurses should implement a daily food intake screening for their patients to keep track of what they are eating. Another implementation the nurse can make for their malnourished patient is weigh their patient daily. It is crucial to also weigh anorexic patients backwards with them not facing the number on the scale because it will intimidate the patient if they are gaining weight.