March 16, 2020
Andrea Andrews, a home care dietitian, helps clients stay strong in their homes.
Story by Karolina Sekulic | Photo by Agnieszka Adams
Dietitians are registered health professionals who support clients by finding innovative ways to unite healthy eating with their lifestyle. Alberta Health Services employs more than 500 of them who work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, supportive living, outpatient clinics, the community and research.
Compassion guides client interactions; dietitians rely upon evidence, creativity and even myth-busting to help clients of all ages navigate their health journey.
“As a home care dietitian with a predominantly senior client base, I help people make healthy, nutritious choices to support their independence in their home,” says Andrea Andrews, who’s based in Edmonton.
“When I visit a client’s home, I keep in mind that I’m a guest in their world. Developing a trusting relationship where they’re comfortable and open with me boosts my ability to guide and support them.
“Inside their home, I see firsthand the challenges they face when it comes to meeting their nutritional needs. I also determine if there are other factors — including physical or financial limitations — that may reduce their ability to make healthy choices. Can they stand to cook? Do they have difficulty swallowing? Can they shop for and afford groceries? All of these observations influence my suggestions to make their mealtimes and meal preparation easier.
“Based on my findings, I provide education to clients and caregivers, such as how to thicken fluids properly, tips for meeting protein and calorie needs to promote wound healing, or ways to prevent dehydration when recovering from ostomy surgery. Other times, I might order food-bank hampers, plan nutritious grocery lists, arrange meal services or troubleshoot ideas for easy-to-prepare meals!
“Helping my clients improve their nutrition can lead them to positive outcomes in their lives. They may experience improved strength and mobility, have more energy to perform a favourite hobby, reach a goal or gain more independence.
“The highlight of my day is learning that a client feels stronger because of the changes to their diet!” adds Andrews. “Sometimes small changes can make a big difference!”
Once a year, a special day is dedicated to dietitians across Canada. This year’s Dietitians Day is March 18.