Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2015 Contents Lifestyle for foodies
ALL FRESH ingredients including seafood, homely
environments with natural lighting and sunny courtyard cafes
for sharing a morning coffee are some of the features of
Scalabrini Village aged care facilities.
At Scalabrini, which as the name suggests attracts many
residents of Italian heritage, the food experience is considered
integral to resident wellbeing and lifestyle, says Rocco
Andreacchio, food service manager for the six NSW facilities.
"When we first introduced the fresh Atlantic salmon and
the fresh Barramundi, the ear-to-ear smiles and general
expression on the faces of our residents said more than
words ever could," Andreacchio tells AAA.
"With such a significant portion of our residents being of
Italian heritage, it's not a stretch to consider them connoisseurs
of good food."
For the past seven years, Andreacchio says he has strived
to enrich all aspects of the catering department from food
safety manuals to sourcing raw ingredients and working out
the right amount of seasoning.
Kitchen staff also participate in quarterly cooking training
days guided by professional trainer and chef Vanessa Martin
to learn how to create dishes on the menu, which Andreacchio
designs to suit Italian palates.
He says putting so much effort into serving fresh food is
important to Scalabrini because most of its residents come
from a background where food and sharing a meal with family
and friends is an integral part of their lives.
"Food helps to comfort them; and particularly in relation to
the Italian culture, food that is made from only fresh ingredients
is expected -- not just by our residents but their families too...
We ensure our menus include fresh Italian pastas, soups,
meats and delicious cakes and biscotti, only using produce
that they would use in their own home."
Old favourites such as stuffed capsicums and spaghetti
marinara are among the most popular dishes. While
Andreacchio is unable to deliver on the constant requests
for salami, prosciutto and some soft cheeses due to NSW Food
Authority guidelines, he says he is thankful there is "plenty of
glorious fresh food" available to satisfy resident tastes.
"The impact food has on our residents is that there is a
feeling of familiarity. By enhancing their touch and smell of food
it evokes positive emotions. Therefore, maintaining a menu
that our residents enjoy helps to improve their sensory
awareness which is vital to their wellbeing."
"The result of not using a qualified person is often a lack of
innovation and a lot of repetition of bigger programs," she says.
Too many stock-standard weekly or monthly group-type
activities that fail to take into account an individual's needs,
preferences and backgrounds is something the Arts Health
Institute has encountered through its consulting work, its chief
executive officer Dr Maggie Haertsch tells AAA.
The AHI's focus is more on creating meaningful experiences
than activities, says Haertsch, who adds that "bucket list"
programs are an interesting innovation she has seen recently.
She says AHI liketo interview residents about their idea and
experiences of fun and one thing they would like to do. For
some people it might be something big, such as going to their
granddaughters' wedding, but for others it might just be going
outside and sitting in the sun, she says.
"It is all helping a person's quality of life," Haertsch says.
INVOLVE ALL STAFF
Haertsch agrees that staff members are key, but she says that while
a diversional therapist might lead the process or be the change
champions, everyone working in aged care should be involved.
"You have to enable your staff to think that it is also their
responsibility; that they make the residents' day the best they
can." Connecting residents and staff with common interests is
a technique they use, says Haertsch.
"There are a lot of similar interests -- singing, dancing,
reading, telling a good story, telling a good joke -- but we are
bound in these terrible structures that are institutionalised
over a long period of time."
She cites aged care provider Arcare's buddy system, which
encourages friendships between staff and residents, as another
To really aim to meet residents' needs and maximise their
quality of life and life experiences, Haertsch encourages aged
care providers to think more creatively about how they use
and enable their staff.
"If you have 15 residents going on a bus trip, that's one aged
care staff member that could go with them because they are not
needed on the floor."
Offering staff opportunities outside of their usual role changes
how they see their work and allows them to engage with and
learn about residents in different scenarios, she says. n
Rocco Andreacchio (left)
54 | JULY -- AUGUST 2015 | AAA
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