Mealtime Abilities and Dementia
As dementia advances eating abilities associated with mealtimes decline in the majority of people living with dementia. Mealtimes can become a stressful time for both the carer and person with dementia. Reduced mealtime eating abilities lead to a loss of independence and dignity for the person with dementia. Food and nutrition intake declines, weight loss and malnutrition is observed and is associated with a decrease in quality of life.
Mealtime abilities are challenging for the carer to manage due to the many complexities involved. For example the decreased ability to eat and drink, an unsupportive mealtime environment and the impact of swallowing difficulties make the mealtime a highly complex area of care.
To add to the confusion there are many interventions that can be trialled although clear evidence for effectiveness is scarce. What is clear is that multi-component interventions tailored for the individual, using a person centred approach, has the best chance of success.
This is where the DMAT comes in and provides the vessel between identifying a reduction in mealtime abilities and deciding what to do about them, how to do it, and importantly how to monitor and evaluate outcomes.
Clearly designed and intuitive to use. The DMAT™ is a British software innovation based on research evidence, best practice guidelines and clinical and caring experience. The DMAT Observation Form offers a simple way to observe and record common mealtime abilities in dementia; ranging from the reduced ability to use cutlery, to refusing to eat, or experiencing swallowing difficulties. Evidenced based interventions to enhance these mealtime abilities can be selected within the DMAT system. The DMAT system generates person centred care plans to improve the mealtime experience. Care plans are securely saved on the system and can be monitored to help improve outcomes. They can also be printed to attach to individuals other care plans or caring notes.
How does the DMAT work?
Step 1: Assess a Mealtime
The DMAT provides you with an ‘Observation Form’ to observe the individual living with dementia at their mealtime. The observation form is an easy to use tick box form. It helps you identify 37 mealtime abilities commonly seen in dementia and those with cognitive impairment and it is split into 4 sections.
These 4 sections include mealtime abilities related to: (1) the ability to eat and drink, (2) preferences and choice with food, (3) meal behaviours and (4) oral eating abilities and behaviours.
When observing a mealtime you can either use a paper copy (see download below) of the DMAT Observation Form or input your observation straight into the DMAT system using your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can read more about ‘Observing People Living With Dementia at Mealtimes‘ on our blog.
Step 2: Select Interventions
Once you have recorded your mealtime observations, which only takes a few minutes, you enter the results into the DMAT system by ticking the boxes of the mealtime abilities you observed.
The DMAT will then generate suggested interventions you can choose from to help you find ways to support the identified mealtime ability. All you need to do is select the interventions you would like to trial.
Step 3: Create a care plan
Following your selection of interventions the DMAT will automatically generate a care plan to meet the specific mealtime needs of the individual you observed. The care plan will include the persons mealtime abilities and the interventions to be put into action. The care plan can be saved within the DMAT system and shared with everyone caring for the individual. You can also print off the care plan to place in a prominent position or add to the caring notes so everyone is aware how to help at mealtimes.
By using the DMAT on a weekly to monthly basis you can monitor which interventions are working and which mealtimes abilities you are improving. As mealtime abilities decline this leads to decreased food intake, weight loss, malnutrition, more reliance on feeding assistance from staff and decreased quality of life. Therefore if mealtime abilities are better supported using The DMAT you can see an improvement in these range of problems.
The reduction in mealtime abilities as dementia advances is a very complex issue faced everyday by carers of those living with dementia. The DMAT helps carers to find some of the solutions to this chronic problem in a simple, practical and person centred way.
The DMAT empower carers with the knowledge and skills to improve nutrition care at mealtimes for people living with dementia. Maintaining a persons mealtime independence and dignity and improving their quality of life.
For further information and to access a 30 day complimentary trial, which will help you understand the full potential of the DMAT system please create an account.
If you have further questions about the DMAT please check our FAQ section or for something more specific please contact us or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.