Have you seen ads in your local paper looking for a dietary aide in a nursing home and wonder exactly what a dietary aide is? If you like helping the elderly and don’t mind having odd hours then becoming a dietary aide might be right for you.
The pay usually isn’t to bad to start out with and some nursing homes offer benefits for full time employees. Below are some main duties in being a dietary’s aide.
Silverware- you may be asked to set up and or bag silverware for the residents. Some residents need special types of silverware such as bent or coated. Not exactly the most exciting thing but it does need to be done. Next you may need to set up glasses and tickets on a tray.
Many residents use special cups such as some can’t have styrofoam as they may try to eat it. Others may need a sippy cup style to avoid spilling their drink on themselves. Some nursing homes have the resident’s meal request on a ticket.
When it’s close to the first meal you may need to get the drinks and make coffee. Usually the drinks consist of milks, assorted juices and specialty drinks like Boost, Carnation Instant Breakfast and special juices. The special juices sometimes are thicken to a honey or nectar consistency to help make it easier for the resident to swallow.
Other dietary restrictions you’ll need to become familiar with are MS- Mechanical Soft and blended foods. MS for example is where instead of eating a whole hotdog, you would serve the hotdog grounded up.
For those who need blended hotdog, a hotdog is blended in a blender sometimes with thickening powder. The powder is white and tasteless. The same goes for desserts- your job as a dietary aide may be to set up desserts for serving on the different floors. You may need to blend up cookies, cake and more.
After serving the first meal you most likely will need to put the un used food in containers to use at a later date. After you’ll need to take the inserts used from the steam cart and take them into the dishwasher.
Many nursing homes have kitchens for each floor which will need restocking of certain items that they use daily. Some items are cookies, applesauce, clean pitchers and canned soup.
For the second part of your day after lunch you may need to go and set up the dining room if the nursing home has one. Often times residents like to socialize with others during dinnertime. You’ll then serve dinner possibly from a steam cart as trays are lined up with people’s tickets on them.
Most times you have someone prepare the drinks before you prepare the dinner on dishes. After dinner you go through the same system of putting away any un used food and taking your inserts into the dish room.
Then you may be asked to clean the dining room. Some nursing homes require one or two people to strip the trays. This requires wearing gloves and scrapping off the food, dumping the drinks and stacking all the items for the dishwasher to clean.
At the end of your day you may be required to re stock a small cart for all or only one floor for breakfast. This may require small cereals, bananas and other items needed for the next day’s breakfast. The next day you go through it all again.
Being a dietary aide in a nursing home isn’t the easiest job but it is rewarding at times. If you’re there long enough, you’ll meet some pretty cool residents that you’ll end up love talking to, just make sure you don’t talk too long in case the boss is watching! Often times those who work in a nursing home consider becoming an lna/cna which means a licensed/certified nurses aide/assistant.
It does take a good amount of bending down daily so make sure you’re in decent shape. It’s also good to be able to life 50 pounds or more since you’ll be lifting dishes and other heavy items throughout the day. Many nursing homes require you to take a vision, physical and drug test at no cost to you before being hired.
You may also be required to take a TB shot. It’s simple and pretty painless. So the next time you aren’t sure on how to make a splash into the nursing world, consider taking a job a dietary aide. Who knows, it may lead you to becoming a registered nurse in the future.