On food in aged care

5 January 2015
Mary Baumann

A big concern from people is that their individual food preferences are not going to be accounted for in an aged care home.

Can I start by saying that yes, there is always going to be compromises when you are sharing a chef. But generally not big ones – it all comes down to communication between the home and the resident.

You see, the nature of the ‘set menu’ in an aged care home is generally influenced by the residents’ preferences. If residents by and large have indicated they are fond of stews, red meats and roast vegetables, set menus are unlikely to regularly feature vegetarian curries or fusion salads.

That does not mean that if you are a vegetarian, or love fusion salads, or simply hate stews that you won’t be catered for – however – you do need to make sure you communicate clearly with the chef at your home so that they know what you want.

The meals in an aged care home are crafted to make sure that the nutritional requirements of the residents are being met, their individual preferences are being met and any adjustments due to medical needs are being met.

It’s not an easy undertaking.

From years of working in aged care I am familiar with the myths about all aged care food being served as puree and other such things, but it is really not the case at all. There are some residents who do require their food to be pureed to enable them to consume it. These are meals prepared for people with acute medical conditions that might make it difficult for them to swallow for instance, however those meals are prepared with the same attention to nutrition as every other meal served.

It is my experience and the experience of many people that residents generally eat better when they move into care, especially if living on their own. Quite often a lack of mobility and a lack of desire to spend ages cooking a single meal impacts an individual’s diet and subsequently, their health.

A number of homes I work with are keen for residents to share their favourite recipes– it’s a simple but effective way to show you that they really do care about making sure you feel ‘at home’.

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