The Full Circle of Bariatric Care

The Full Circle of Bariatric Care

Focus on weight loss is far away from being sufficient, when bariatric persons end up in the health system. There should be an interdisciplinary collaboration if the process is to be successful.

12. July 2016

By: Occupational Therapist, Pia Beck

A group of specialists from the same domain cannot alone accomplish the task, when it comes to handling and treating bariatric persons. The process is complex and requires great knowledge from the health domain. From emergency admission, to the referring department and further to the municipality level, an interdisciplinary collaboration is necessary. In a scenario with a bariatric client, it is very important that one group of specialists knows what the others are doing, and not least that they constantly cooperate.

Weight loss is usually the main focus area. The question is, shouldn’t it be secondary? For the body to recover, it is important that the necessary resources are available, and a strict diet could challenge the bariatric person’s healing and rehabilitation process.

If there is a wish to involve the bariatric person’s resources, for example when moving them, it is important that they have energy in order to help. If the focus has exclusively been on weight loss, and therefore on a minimal intake of calories, the result may well be a tired and slightly confused person. A person who has no resources, power, and energy to participate when being transferred. 

According to my experience, very few of the ones that work with transferring people find it obvious to initiate an interdisciplinary collaboration with a dietician. The above is an example from practice, showing that the dietician’s knowledge and contribution to transferring people is meaningful.

360 Degrees

Often a very complex picture emerges when meeting a bariatric person in the health system. There are many physiological, psychological, and practical considerations to be taken into account, in order for the situation not to worsen. The right helping methods and individual customization are necessary.

Pressure preventing underlays and a healthy environment in bed should be a priority. A stable and comfortable positioning should be implemented. The patient’s possible respiration and pain-related challenges should be taken into account.

The nutritional needs should be covered, and the transporting and hygiene work should be systematized. If just one of these areas is not prioritized, there can be fatal consequences for the bariatric person.

You might also like: Safe Moving and Handling of Bariatric Patients

Cooperation Across Disciplines

Cooperation across sectors in the bariatric area is important if we want to provide the bariatric person with good and consistent treatment, rehabilitation, and care. A good collaboration between hospitals, doctors, and municipalities is vital to the wellbeing of bariatric persons.

It is desirable to have a systematic collaboration across sectors, having as main purpose the creation of a framework for communication and for mutually known agreements.

The framework is one of the most important factors needed to ensure a good foundation for cooperation and to make sure all parties know their tasks and roles. Such collaborations between the primary and the secondary sector and between different domains can, among others, develop in connection with the healthcare agreements, management programs and cooperation models.

Can there be a happy end?

According to my experience, when specialists from all domains collaborate and make room for each other’s area of knowledge, it is possible to provide professional and dignified care to bariatric persons. However, based on personal experience, it is far from easy and smooth to create such a successful course.

There is certainly a lot of knowledge and best practices both on the regional and on the municipal level. They should be made public, so that we can all enjoy and benefit from them.