Should you Hire a full time Dietitian or a Dietitian Consultant for your Senior Living Community?

The first step is to consider what model works best for your type of community.

If you have an assisted living community in need of a dietitian to create or sign-off on menus and to review your resident’s diet plans, the best approach is to hire a dietitian consultant who will be available for a few hours each quarter.

Skilled Nursing facilities will require dietitian hours depending on the size of the community and routine number of admissions.

Smaller communities may only need a dietitian for 8 to 16 hours a week to ensure nutritional care. In this case, hiring a dietitian consultant would meet your needs and be affordable.

However, a large building with more acute care residents may require a full-time dietitian and a full-time employee who is always available may be the best solution.

Most communities fall somewhere in-between and can be served by either an in-house dietitian or a dietitian consultant.

The second step is to evaluate costs.

Recruitment, Hiring, Onboarding

Recruiting and hiring a dietitian typically takes an average of 42 days incurring costs such as advertising, hourly salary for in-house hiring team, onboarding and training, and background checks. According to the Society of Human Resources and Management, such hiring costs average $4,129.

When you hire a dietitian consulting company, that company incurs the recruiting, training and hiring costs.

Salary and Ongoing Costs

A full-time dietitian employee receives a salary along with a benefits package that is typically 30% of the base, costing a total of 80,000 per year. You may also incur additional costs such as salary raises, replacement of employee if necessary, or hiring a temporary dietitian for maternity or sick leave.

The second approach which works well for small to mid-sized communities is to hire a registered dietitian consultant who is a part-time contractor typically working 24 hours a week. Although the hourly rate may be higher than an employee, without the extra costs mentioned above, typically this model will cost just over $60,000 per year. Because such dietitian consulting services have a number of consultants on staff, there is never a lapse in coverage due to illness or extenuating circumstances.

Other considerations when deciding between hiring an employee or dietitian consultant.

A dietitian consulting firm like BSN Solutions also offers a team of experienced senior consultants who can provide expert support to the consultant in your building to meet any challenges that may arise.

Consultant dietitians from companies specializing in long-term care can immediately be productive members of your team, avoiding any need for additional training.


About Gail Douglas

Gail joined BSN Solutions as a Regional Director in March of 2013. Her role is to promote the adoption of the new dining standards and person-centered dining throughout the communities serviced by BSN Solutions. She also recruits, coordinates placement of, and supports the dietitian consultants who work with BSN Solutions in its client communities. Gail has a vast 30+ year background in long-term care, having worked within skilled nursing and rehab centers in clinical and management capacities. She holds a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition.
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