Dietitians have played a key role in the immediate response to COVID-19, be that working in ICU, introducing innovative digital clinics or supporting public health. However, going forward, there will be a significant increase in demand for dietetic services to support people in the community. These services will support people’s recovery, rehabilitation and reablement, aimed at improving their nutrition and hydration status to improve health and wellbeing and speed recovery from other health issues, including COVID-19.
Those in need of support will fall into different categories:
To meet the significant increase in demand, it is vital that health and care services plan for and put in place comprehensive and expanded community services that involve dietitians as part of the rehabilitation MDT. Governments must make sure that they provide the resources and funding to health and social care trusts, boards and partnerships to enable them to do this.
Longer term governments and healthcare services must look at how we can expand dietetic capacity and ensure more dietitians and other community healthcare professionals can be trained.
Chief Allied Health Professions Officers in all four nations have recognised the critical role dietitians and other AHPs will have in providing rehabilitation services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to build on this.
The BDA is championing the role of dietitians in community rehabilitation and reablement as a key part of the response to the next phase of COVID-19.
Members, especially those working in community services, will need to make sure the dietetic voice is heard as part of the post COVID-19 response.