Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2012 Contents Food is an integral part of our
wellbeing and quality of life.
So the ability of aged care
residents to have their food
preferences -- plus some flexibility
-- recognised in the meal service is essential.
It is also a key factor when planning a menu.
As people enter aged care there will
be less choice, and that is why the menu
plays an important role in our care.
A good menu delivers foods that are
meaningful to the individual, providing
sociability and comfort. One of the most
important factors to recognise is that
the ultimate goal of food is to provide
nourishment for maintaining residents'
health and quality of life and enable them
to function each day while doing the
activities they enjoy.
That said, catering for a large number of
people using one menu is often challenging.
The balancing act can leave staff
frustrated with their efforts to please
residents because finding the right balance is
very tricky. Residents have their own views
on the food they should eat, how it should be
cooked and when they would like to eat it.
Their view of food comes from their
preferences -- that is, what a person likes
to eat -- and these food preferences come
from the culinary experiences they have
had over their lifetime.
As everyone's food experience varies
greatly, this further adds to the complexity
for staff. If one resident likes sausages it
does not mean that every other resident
wants to eat them as well. But somewhere
in that statement we need to find a balance.
No matter which food service system you
have in place at your facility, cook fresh or
cook chill, there is a point to which your
menu can stretch to accommodate the food
preferences of residents. This means that
menus are always compromises with a level
of choice and that at mealtime residents
frequently are limited by what's on the menu.
Menu planning is therefore important
to ensure an adequate range and variety
just a menu
Pleasing everyone's taste buds in a large
aged care facility can be tricky but, as Karen
Abbey writes, there are ways to
address food preferences.
of foods are offered,
and the process
menu cycle of at
least four weeks. It
is equally important
to realise that food
preferences can be
influenced by the
way the food is presented, the flavour of
meals and whether or not food is served
at the right temperature.
Even though a resident, when entering
a facility, may not like everything on a
menu, there is often a transition period in
which residents become used to the way
that foods are cooked.
Over time, the memory of foods eaten
before is replaced by the foods served in
aged care. One of the secrets to ensuring
consistency of meals served is to develop
standard recipes: the same strategy that
McDonald's uses all over the world. People
like the security of knowing what food will
taste like and that is why it is important
in food service to ensure that recipes are
consistent in quality and taste. This way,
food preferences become more aligned
with the menu of the facility.
One area of concern to note in aged
care is that residents are at risk of
malnutrition. This is due to a number
of reasons including frailty, medical
conditions and decreased mobility. Keeping
residents active and mobile is really
important because of general deterioration
in swallowing and the ability to feed
oneself, and the lack of motivation to eat.
For residents struggling to eat, food
preferences are vital. Being able to find the
most tempting foods and those most likely
to be consumed is really important. This
may mean that food intake is not ideal but
for a short period of time, does that matter?
The best thing is to get the resident eating.
Knowing their favourite foods is a good
food preference strategy, but so is noticing
what is being consumed and focusing food
intake on those foods.
Aged care standards emphasise the
involvement of residents in menu planning
and collecting food preference information
is important. There are a few methods you
can use. These include observing what
residents like to eat, so you can use food
intake or plate wastage as a measure;
surveying residents and obtaining
feedback that way; or holding meetings
with residents and discussing menus and
the food options they would like to have.
We can also spend time understanding
"One of the most important factors to
recognise is that the ultimate goal of food
is to provide nourishment for maintaining
residents' health and quality of life and
enabling them to function each day
while doing the activities they enjoy."
54 | JANUARY -- FEBRUARY 2012 | AAA
Links Archive AAA Mar-Apl 2012 AAA Nov-Dec 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page