Posted on Monday, 17th January, 2022
The two big events of 2021 will quite possibly shape the future of food in Aged Care in 2022 and beyond.
In February 2021 the National Aged Care Congress on Food, Nutrition and the Dining Experience, was held in Sydney. Specialists across all aspects of food in Aged Care came together to share ideas and innovations to help guide and inspire the industry. Read full report here.
Furthermore, in March 2021, the Royal Commission’s findings on Aged Care Quality and Safety were released. Read full report here.
We believe these top 5 themes will be hot on the agenda for Aged Care in 2022
There has been widespread recognition for food in Aged Care to improve, people need to be specifically trained to work in the industry. Texture modification, pureed food, healthy food for the elderly and the impact of conditions such as dementia and dysphagia on diet and appetite are all underrepresented in any food-skills training. A number of tertiary education providers including TAFE NSW have responded by launching new training modules/courses on Aged Care foodservice. The addition of such training will help improve food service in Aged Care.
One of the biggest challenges for Aged Care has always been budget allocations for the kitchen. Fortunately, this was a hot-topic at both the congress and in the findings of the Royal Commission. The year 2022 could see work done towards re-assigning resources and budget increases to help improve all aspects of food in Aged Care.
The Areas identified were:
- Staff training
- Equipment upgrades (and specific training)
- Infrastructure upgrades (i.e. internet access)
- Increased and flexible food budgets
3. The Dining Experience
Where and how people eat, have been identified as being as important as what they are eating. Much research and innovation has been directed towards understanding things like:
- Dining room design
- Table settings
- Food presentation
- Dining room ambience
- Aroma, sound and lighting
It has been acknowledged that individuals require specialised dining situations, including suitable foods and the right support at mealtimes. For example, people with dementia often find it difficult to sit and eat - so finger food on the move can be a great solution.
4. Holistic Care
High quality, holistic aged care means a resident not only receives the physical and medical support they need, but also the emotional, social, spiritual and personal support they require to ensure that their quality of life is of the highest possible standard. The importance of connecting an individual’s support network - dentists, doctors, speech pathologists, dietitians, nutritionists, Chefs and activity managers, etc. - was emphasised at the National Congress.
5. Texture Modified Food
Texture modification needs particular attention. With the introduction of IDDSI in May of 2019, Aged Care Chefs have started to incorporate the new texture modified testing standards into their meal preparation. One area which was identified as an opportunity during our Texture Modified Food Panel Discussion in 2021 was the creation of recipes which have directions for multiple texture levels so Chefs are able to offer comprehensive menus to all residents regardless of their texture modification needs.
The New Aged Care Standards will also contribute to the ongoing improvements in the industry, and 2022 will hopefully see the broad implementation of better processes, training, budgets and staffing to support the work of Aged Care Chefs.