Improving equity in access to dietetic services across Western NSW LHD by utilising a Virtual Dietetic Service

Catherine Forbes1, Nicole Litwin-Farrell1

1Western NSW LHD, Forbes, Australia, 2Western NSW LHD, Parkes, Australia

A lack of Dietetic resources in Western NSW Local Health District means that residents at risk of malnutrition in Multi-Purpose Services (MPS) in our LHD who are at risk of malnutrition are not always identified at being at risk of malnutrition and do not always receive appropriate nutritional intervention.

The aim of this pilot project was to determine if we could improve the nutritional status of residents at risk of malnutrition in MPS facilities utilising a Virtual Dietetic Service (VDS).

Method: Telehealth was identified as a method of service delivery which could be utilised to improve access to allied health services for residents in MPS facilities. Discussions occurred with key stake holders and seven MPS sites in WNSWLHD were chosen to pilot a VDS. Residents in these sites who scored an MST greater than 2 on routine screening were referred to the Virtual Dietitian who utilised telehealth technology to assess the client and provide nutrition education and support to both the client and staff in the MPS facility.

Results: All residents with an MST score > 2 are now referred to the VDS, over two hundred Virtual Dietetic interventions have occurred since the pilot commenced. Identified benefits reported by sites utilising the VDS have included: a reduction in falls, upskilling of staff, and an increase in the number of residents undergoing routine malnutrition screening.

Discussion/Recommendation: A virtual Dietetic Service has been shown to be an effective model for increasing equity in access and providing better nutrition care to residents in MPS facilities in Western NSW LHD


Catherine Forbes has worked as a Dietitian in Ruural locations in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales over the past 20 years. She is currently the Nutrition and Dietetics Clinical Advisor for Western NSW Local Health District and has a passion for improving the health of rural people.

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