You might have heard about Serious Incident Reporting Scheme (SIRS) being rolled out by the Aged Care Quality Commission recently. Maybe you are wondering what it means for your home and what kind of nutrition related incidents are reportable (or not reportable). This month, we provide a deep dive into this topic and some practical tips that you can implement straightaway at your home.

If you are unsure what SIRS is, SIRS is a new initiative aimed to prevent and minimise the incidents of abuse and neglect at residential aged care homes. Starting from 1 April 2021, all approved providers should have effective incident management systems in place if an incident relating to the current criteria occurred.

Here are some questions that you can use to see whether your home is on top of the SIRS requirement as it relates to food and nutrition:

  1. Are your residents receiving sufficient assistance/support during meal times?

(SIRS criteria: Neglect)

As people get older or have deteriorations in their health or have advancing dementia, they may not be able to feed themselves as well as they used to. They may not even remember to eat or drink. Therefore, they may require a more involved 1:1 feeding approach to help them in consuming their meals/snacks or sipping their fluids throughout the day.

  1. Are you providing correct meals to the residents who have dietary requirements?
    (SIRS criteria: Neglect)

Some residents require an allergen free diet such as gluten free, nut free or dairy free Therefore, it is important for these residents to be receiving the correct meals as per their dietary assessment to avoid serious allergic reaction.

Residents who are receiving meals containing foods that they dislike (certain vegetables or meals) are not considered as a part of SIRS, although steps are encouraged to be taken to minimise these instances.

  1. Are you providing appropriate support for residents who have unintended weight loss and/or at risk of dehydration?

(SIRS criteria: Neglect and/or unexpected death)

Some homes have nutrition and hydration strategies in place to minimise the risk of unplanned weight loss for their residents, which can include extra desserts, high protein milkshakes, foods for residents who are hungry outside of the set mealtimes or milo made with full cream milk for supper. This also includes referring the residents to an experienced dietitian who can provide tailored recommendations to improve the resident’s nutrition status and their quality of life.

SIRS is a great opportunity for your home to think about the everyday care that you provide to your residents. You can use these 3 questions as your reflection points in the next meeting:

  • What are some efforts that your home has implemented or can do to upskill staff to minimise incidents from occurring? (Ideas: Quality activities, staff education)
  • What are your home’s current incident reporting systems and procedures? Are the staff clear and aware of them?
  • What are some small changes that you can make today to help your resident consume their meals or drink their fluids? (Ideas: fluid push round, 1:1 staff assistance, encourage residents to eat their meals at the dining room).

Your Plena Healthcare dietitian is experienced and knowledgeable in helping your home to meet the new SIRS criteria. Please do not hesitate to give us a phone call on 136 033 if you would like to discuss how your home can become a SIRS champion.