Medibank launches pilot to combat malnutrition in seniors

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Medibank has launched a pilot program that will screen customers who have an upcoming hospital admission and are aged over 75 for risks of malnutrition.

The company said that around 50 per cent of older Australians are at risk of malnutrition or are malnourished. This can lead to a slower recovery from injury and illness.

Medibank's senior executive of member health, Rebecca Tinning, said the focus is on getting the best health outcomes for our older and at-risk customers.

“We know that older people who are admitted to hospital are at increased risk of malnutrition, which may be due to a range of factors including poor appetite, illnesses, social isolation, dental problems and psychological stress,” said Dr Tinning.

“Going to hospital can increase the risk of older people suffering malnutrition, which impacts recovery and their ability to conduct daily activities.

“Medibank identified that support from a dietician may help customers aged over 75 ensure their nutritional needs are met before their hospital admission, improving recovery outcomes and ultimately independence.”

Medibank dietician Rhiannon Hendra said there are some simple tips that can help reduce the risk of developing malnutrition.

“One of the ways to prevent malnutrition is through small, frequent meals that are high in protein and energy (kilojoules),” said Ms Hendra.

Eligible customers will be screened for malnutrition risk factors before an upcoming hospital admission and will be offered a call with a registered dietician to discuss their diet and how they can improve their eating habits.

“At risk customers will be provided with evidence-based information on nutrition from a dietician and may then be referred to their GP or community dietician for further assessment,” continued Dr Tinning.

Medibank’s Health Concierge staff reach out to customers who are planning a hospital visit to guide them through what to expect during their stay and practical advice to help with their recovery.