Understanding the Role

A disability dietitian is a specialised healthcare professional who has in-depth knowledge of nutrition and its impact on individuals with disabilities. Living with a disability comes with many challenges including various nutrition issues. Early intervention with a dietitian can help prevent and manage these issues.  Dietitians do this by working closely with individuals, families, and caregivers to develop personalized dietary interventions that cater to the specific needs faced by those with disabilities. Beyond just food, disability dietitians play a vital role in educating and empowering individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

A day in the life…

Disability dietitians go out to people with disabilities in varied settings including schools, group homes, family homes, and first conduct a nutrition assessment. They then assess and address the unique nutritional requirements of individuals with disabilities, and consider factors such as physical limitations, sensory issues, medication interactions, and underlying medical conditions to create tailored nutrition goals, offer support and recommendations, which is never a one-size-fits-all. They most importantly ensure that individuals receive the necessary nutrients to support their overall health and well-being, and monitor clients regularly for several months until they achieve their goals.

 

Disability dietitians are trained to help with:

  • > Unintentional weight loss and malnutrition
  • > Weight management
  • > Management of chronic diseases like diabetes or High Blood Pressure
  • > Implementing texture-modified diets
  • > Improving nutritional deficiencies from food aversions/ fussy eating
  • > Managing bowel issues like constipation or diarrhoea
  • > Assist with Enteral feeds
  • > Supporting to improve quality of life through nutrition

As Dietitians are experts in nutrition, they also do a lot of educating and empowering clients with disabilities along with their families and carers, around food, by taking into consideration a client’s learning level. They provide valuable information on nutrition, healthy food choices, and portion control, equipping individuals and their support systems with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed dietary choices. They can also create personalised meal plans, provide shopping lists, teach how to read food labels, have cooking classes, and even help navigate through a supermarket! By empowering individuals, disability dietitians foster independence and promote long-term health and well-being.

 

Collaborating with other professionals:

Disability dietitians not only play a crucial role in advocating for the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities, they also understand the importance of collaboration in providing holistic care. They work closely with other healthcare professionals, including GPs, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists, to ensure a comprehensive approach to managing the nutritional needs of individuals with disabilities. This collaborative effort ensures that all aspects of an individual’s health are considered, leading to improved outcomes and quality of life.

 

If you would like help understanding how a disability dietitian can help your body’s overall health and wellbeing, then please feel free to contact us today. Call us on 1800 000 677 or make a referral: https://www.orsgroup.com.au/refer/

 

Erene Thong

National Manager – Dietetics
BSc, MNutr&Diet

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