Diet is a crucial part in a patient’s recovery period. After he has recovered from an illness, a patient will require nutritional food in order to get back to his normal routine. This is where a dietary aide steps in to guide them about their eating choices. These experts work closely with dieticians and doctors to devise the right diet plan for the patient to follow. The diet plan has to be such that will help the patient recover faster and will boost their immune system. They also have to take into consideration the things that the patient is forbidden from consuming and draft the diet plan accordingly.
At present, dietary aides have gained quite a lot of prominence, as people have become more health and environment conscious. Their assistance is not only sought by patients, but also by individuals who just want to stay healthy. They guide people according to their dietary requirements; if they wish to gain or lose weight. Dietary aides are typically hired by clinics and hospitals, sanatoriums, health clubs, where they are also responsible for overseeing the preparation of meals for the patient.
Dietary aides discuss with clients to understand their diet quandary and confer their dietary missions with a professional dietician. They are involved in helping dieticians chart out actions and plans for their clients. After a diet plan has been drafted, it becomes the dietary aide’s job to make sure that it implemented in the most appropriate manner. This may involve food preparation and management for service programs.
They closely follow assigned recipes and notice how clients eat to be able to determine the right plan of action for the future. Consultation is a key part of a dietary aide’s work, where they interview patients to understand their lifestyle needs and modifications and prepares important guidelines according to the head dietician’s instructions. They discuss with their patients about their food choices, interpret the kinds of food and beverages they should or should not consume.
Dietary aides work in both commercial and private capacities, where they carry out a key role in the healthcare industry. Many states require dietary aides to be equipped with a dietetic technician certificate to be able to qualify for the job. If you are interested in acquiring this job position, this is the best place to get started.
Dietary Aide Duties and Responsibilities
A dietary aide’s key duties include helping prepare food for patients or residents (in health care facilities such as assisted living or nursing homes) who require help eating their meals. The dietary aides work side-by-side with their dietary managers to prepare meals. They also help in cleaning, maintaining kitchen, taking down and setting up the dining areas. Other duties include delivering food to residents, serving and preparing snacks, and taking stock of kitchen supplies and food. Dietary aides must know the protocols of food processes for their facilities, along with the rules for the states where they currently work. Other duties include:
- Consulting with the patient to find out about their favorite food and the healthiest way to prepare it
- Supervising the cook when the meal is being cooked
- Ensuring that food stocks are full and whether they need to be replaced
- Teaching the patient’s family on how to prepare the right meals for them
- Keeping their knowledge about healthy foods up-to-date and having information about latest healthy cooking techniques
- Having some medical knowledge to be able to understand the patients’ problems better
- Delivering trays and dishes at designated rooms and times
- Taking down dining areas and collecting glasses, plates, etc
- Discarding leftovers and taking out garbage.
- Cleaning food stations and washing dishes, cooking silverware and vessels.
- Assisting in managing expenses and menu planning
- Helping maintain kitchen appliances and equipment
- Preparing meals using standards to maintain quality and sanitation
- Recording meals served accurately and monitoring food temperatures
- Washing dishes and/or utensils in a way that is in line with acceptable practice standards
- Monitoring patient’s condition by properly observing the mental and physical condition, exercise, and intake and output
- Supporting patients by offering laundry and housekeeping services, food shopping and carrying out other household requirements, running errands, preparing snacks
- Assisting patients by helping with everyday chores such as grooming, dressing, and bathing
- Helping patients with self-care by teaching them how to use walker or cane, special utensils for eating, special equipment and techniques for personal hygiene
- Helping family members care for the patient by teaching them the appropriate ways to turn, lift, and reposition the patient. They also help them on subjects such as nutrition, housekeeping, and cleanliness
- Recording information of the patient by making journal entries; notifying supervisor of any unusual or changing conditions
- Helping licensed dieticians in interviewing patients to decide their personalized dietary needs
- Taking medical histories of clients to identify chronic illnesses and food allergies
- Conferring with patients in order to get a good idea about their food likes and dislikes
- Preparing a menu for every patient depending on their medical condition, physical health, preferences and distastes
- Making sure that patients do eat their meals to ascertain their proper caloric intake
- Talking to patients before, after and during meal times
- Keeping an eye on the patient’s conditions, like weight loss/gain, hypertension and declining blood pressure
- Writing down any changes in patient’s files and providing updates to the dietician from time to time
- Making sure that each patient takes their medication on time
- Cleaning food preparation areas to make sure that hygiene standards are fulfilled
Dietary aides are required to possess certain skills that enable them to carry out their assigned duties more efficiently. These skills include paying attention to the detail and having the ability to properly follow instructions for dietary needs, reading recipes, and meal orders. They dietary aide should also have the physical potential to prepare food, assist the patients in eating and also serving meals, along with being able to handle kitchen equipment and also clean up after meals. Besides their physical skills, a dietary aide should also be compassionate, understanding, and gentle when working with patients, as well as their family members.
- Previous experience as a dietary aide
- Enhanced experience in customer service is always appreciated
- Thorough knowledge about safety guidelines and sanitation
- Aptness in preparing meals in accordance with the precise instructions
- Skilled in operating cooking appliances, bakeware and cookware
- A friendly personality with good communication skills
- Stamina and good physical condition
- A high school diploma or equivalent; food certification is always appreciated
- Familiarity with clinical diets
- Food service and/or culinary experience in a health care facility is a bonus
- Ability to cooperate and work in a team
- Ability to read and comprehend common recipes
- Good customer service skills
- Ability to work efficiently and quickly
- Ability to stand for long periods and lift heavy weights
- Willingness to participate in continuing education courses and training
- A certificate from American Dietician Association will prove quite helpful in getting you a job, although it is not necessary.
Working Routine Qualifications
The regular day of a dietary aide consists of working under the dietary manager and assisting patients when they need it. extra work tasks may include passing around food trays to their designated rooms and at their designated times, following state and federal regulations concerning food safety, returning dirty dishes to the kitchen for cleaning and tidying up dining areas, receiving and stocking supplies or food, following safety guidelines when working, and avoiding any food contamination by storing it properly.
Dietary aides working in health care facilities usually spend the majority of their time standing and walking around carrying out different tasks. During their day-to-day activities, a dietary aide may have to indulge in activities that involve lifting around 50 pounds in goods such as food supplies. Working in the kitchen may also mean having to deal with extreme temperature shifts, from extra heat in the cooking are to freezing temperatures when working in the walk-in-freezers.
Dietary Aides Pay Salary
In the United States, dietary aides can expect hourly wages of $9.44 on average. Of course, the total earnings will comprise of the hourly rate in addition to other incomes such as hourly tips, overtime, profit sharing and bonuses. Furthermore, the hourly rate will also vary depending on your qualification, experience, skills, and the geographical location.
Dietary aides working in assisted-living facilities typically earn an hourly wage rate of $8.86 (as per 2011 statistics). A dietary aide who works full-time would be able to make an average salary. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the average yearly salary as $19,210.
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