Dietary Aid Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Dietary Aid, or Dietary Server, follows diet plans to prepare healthy meals for patients and residents in healthcare facilities. Their main duties include collaborating with Cooks and Dietitians to build menus according to patients’ dietary restrictions or allergies, cleaning the facility’s dining hall and kitchen areas and teaching patients about proper nutrition and wellness habits to follow.

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Dietary Aid duties and responsibilities

Dietary Aids monitor the eating activities of in-house patients. Some of their duties and responsibilities could include:

  • Remaining prompt and positive with patients
  • Follow Dietitian meal plans pertaining to each individual patient to ensure proper health
  • Work nights, weekends and holidays as required
  • Maintain knowledge of agency rules, medical protocols and certification requirements
  • Assist patients in eating
  • Keep dining areas and kitchens clean and sanitary
  • Operate some kitchen equipment as needed 

What does a Dietary Aid do?

Dietary Aids work in different healthcare facilities, cooking and serving foods to patients. Once they’re finished preparing and serving the meal, the Dietary Aid cleans up the kitchen, dining room or cleans and clears the plate in the patients’ room. Dietary Aids sometimes feed the patients if they’re unable to do so themselves. Dietary Aids are responsible for learning and following the local, state and federal food and infection control regulations when preparing and serving meals.

Dietary Aid skills and qualifications

A Dietary Aid should have the following skills and qualifications: 

  • Ability to maintain a clean environment
  • Excellent time-management and organizational skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills 
  • Ability to lift and carry up to 50 pounds
  • Passion for helping patients achieve an excellent quality of life
  • Attention to detail when reviewing dietary restrictions and meal plans
  • Food handling certificate preferred

Dietary Aid salary expectations

 A Dietary Aid makes an average of $10.95 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Dietary Aid education and training requirements

The minimum education requirement for Dietary Aids is a high school diploma or equivalent, though an associate degree in nutrition is typically preferred. Most training takes place on the job, including instruction on patient care, food preparation and sanitization procedures. Dietary Aids sometimes hold food handling certifications to show that they received training regarding proper food preparation and storage guidelines. 

Dietary Aid experience requirements

Dietary Aids usually don’t need experience since it’s an entry-level role. If the role involves a high level of responsibility, 2 to 3 years of experience may be required. Experience in customer service could be especially useful as Dietary Aids interact closely with patients, and experience as a cook or server is valuable. Volunteer experience at a nursing home or hospital could apply to this role. Most important is a candidate’s passion to help others and a willingness to learn. 

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Frequently asked questions about Dietary Aids

 

What makes a good Dietary Aid?

A great Dietary Aid has experience preparing food and working in the nutrition and meal preparation industry. They should have extensive experience preparing many meals at once and an understanding of how many calories are in certain meals so patients receive proper intakes and proportions. 

Strong Dietary Aid candidates are also organized, as they need to track and minority each patient’s individual dietary restrictions, food allergies and meal preferences. Compassion, care and interpersonal skills are important for Dietary Aids to have as well since they regularly listen to patients and work to meet their needs. 

 

What's the difference between a Dietary Aid and a Dietitian?

Though they both work with patients to provide healthy meals, the responsibilities of Dietitians and Dietary Aids are vastly different. Dietitians create the patients’ diet plan, while the Dietary Aid carries out the plan and serves it to the patient. 

Dietitians work closely with patients to establish and set their healthcare and nutrition goals to help them live healthier lifestyles. Once they build a wellness and nutrition with the patient, they’ll work with the Dietary Aid to build a menu for the patient. The Dietary Aid follows the Dietitians’ meal plan to prepare and serve healthy food items to the patient. 

 

What settings do Dietary Aids typically work in?

Dietary Aids work in a variety of healthcare settings, typically performing similar duties of preparing and serving food to patients. They may work in hospitals providing food to high-risk patients working to return to stable health conditions. Some work in retirement homes providing healthy foods to elderly patients who have specific dietary restrictions and preferences the Dietary Aid must remember and follow each day. Others provide food to patients in rehabilitation facilities recovering from recent illnesses and injuries, who are following a strict meal plan according to their recovery needs.

 

Who does a Dietary Aid report to?

The person a Dietary Aid reports to often depends on the facility they work in. Some healthcare centers with several Dietary Aids on staff require them to report to a Dietary Aid Manager, who builds their schedules and assigns them to build nutrition plans for certain patients each day. Some Dietary Aids who work in smaller healthcare facilities report directly to the Dietitian and follow the strict diet plan they’ve laid out for them.

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