Dietary aides assist with the preparation and delivery of meals to patients in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Their role in the dietary department includes helping cooks, performing kitchen duties, arranging for and unloading supplies and ingredients, and examining and updating the dietary information of patients. They must strictly follow rules and regulations concerning sanitation and proper food handling.
The responsibilities of dietary aides cover a wide variety of tasks which includes preparing meals under strict adherence to food safety standards, handling supplies and ingredients, understanding dietary requirements and special needs of patients, assisting and working well with other professionals in the dietary department, as well as performing food service duties such as delivering and serving food and beverages, cleaning after meals, and disposing refuse. They may also consult with patients regarding food preferences and discuss healthier meal options; observe the patients’ response to the assigned meal plan and report problems or progress to the dietician or medical doctor.
Education and Training Requirements
The minimum requirement needed to become a dietary aide is a high school diploma, but applicants with additional training and some experience in related fields are preferred by most healthcare establishments. It is possible to advance as a cook or even as a dietician with supplementary education, training, or more experience.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
Dietary aides must able to completely understand and carry out verbal and written directions effectively; be able to work well with others and with minimal supervision; must possess good customer service skills and a positive attitude; should be agile and can accomplish task within schedules; and must be in good physical condition to perform task that requires strength and stamina.
Dietary aides work on their feet most of the time, delivering meals, collecting utensils, helping in the kitchen, and visiting the office. They often carry meal trays and push food carts around with them when visiting patients or boxes of materials or food shipments when dealing with supplies. The varying conditions required by equipments and procedures in the kitchen area exposes them to extreme temperatures.
The average annual income of an inexperienced dietary aide is around $20,000, while those with more experience may earn up to $25,000 per year. The income of a dietary aide is typically based on an hourly wage but there are several institutions and facilities that offer salaried positions. Dietary aide personnel may benefit from flexible schedules, with shifts in the morning, afternoon, and evenings.