BScN, RN, GNC(C) President,
Eldercare Home Health Inc.

“Accurate weight measuring is a simple yet often neglected aspect of basic care that contributes significantly to determining an individual’s overall and nutritional health” (Canadian Nurse October 2011 Volume 107 Number 8 p20)

In an article entitled Taking the Weight, authors report that the lack of weight measurement and documentation in a facility setting were affected by the following issues;

  • a lack of time due to workload demands
  • confusion about which clinical team member is responsible for weighing a resident
  • a lack of understanding of the significance of weight measurement
  • inaccessibility of scales and confusion as to which scale was appropriate for the resident
  • limited space for documenting weights on nursing flow sheets
  • difficulty locating weight data in the medical record

Really? Health care teams made up of professional, caring, intelligent adults cannot figure this one out without studies, multiple meetings and work sessions only made possible with additional money from the Ministry? Imagine if they have to tackle something really difficult!

The team writing the article developed the Bruyere Weight Measuring Protocol and Process. It included education, a protocol guide, a data-fax standardized documentation procedure for collecting and recording data and the production of individualized graphs to track patient weight over time and flag weight loss and gains. (Hope they didn’t go to too much effort, because these kinds of tools already exist.)

The authors claim a dramatic improvement in the accurate documentation of weights.

Is it only me or does it strike anyone else that the monitoring of senior’s weight within a health care setting is an important, basic indicator of a person’s wellbeing? It is a relatively simple procedure in most cases, (no bloodwork required), and can yield important warning signs of impending and/or changing health conditions.

The excuse of workload demand is too often the “go-to” excuse for any and everything in a facility. It’s hard to know when the claim is justified, although sometimes there’s no doubt that it definitely is.

In this instance, the provision of education and direction regarding when and where to document, as well as the monitoring of compliance, was enough to change Practice. It doesn’t sound like workload demands were a factor at all.

The working group that developed the protocol now propose introducing an e-learning weight module to provide more education to staff.

Since they received funding from the Ministry of Health to develop the protocol, it seems to me that the strategies and documentation that resulted should be distributed to all facilities in Ontario, even Canada, where there is a need to monitor patient/resident health.

Now, whether that weight record is reviewed on a regular basis and how the information figures into Client care….that’s an entirely different issue and a topic for another day.

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