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Food and Nutrition in Aged Care: Latest Requirements and Resources

31/10/23
Resources

 

New food and nutrition requirements will be introduced next year as part of the revised Aged Care Quality Standards. Between now and then, the Department of Health and Aged Care along with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be releasing new guidance and resources to help aged care providers deliver quality meals to consumers while also preparing for the new requirements.

 

Here’s what you need to know.

 

Draft Aged Care Quality Standard: Food and Nutrition

The Department of Health and Aged Care have included a dedicated food and nutrition standard in the draft strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards. The expectation statement for older people in the Food and Nutrition Standard (Standard 6) is:

I receive plenty of food and drinks that I enjoy. Food and drinks are appetising, nutritious and safe, and meet my needs and preferences. The dining experience is enjoyable, includes variety and supports a sense of belonging.”

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is currently piloting Standard 6. The new Standard is expected to be introduced in July 2024.

 

Resources

The Maggie Beer Foundation

Although the new Standard will not be introduced until next year, the Federal Government has provided $12.9 million in funding to improve food and nutrition in aged care. Of that $12.9 million, $5 million has been granted to the Maggie Beer Foundation to improve the wellbeing of older Australians by helping to upskill cooks, chefs, and food service staff in the aged care sector.

The program involves chef and cook training mentors sharing their knowledge and skills through workshops around Australia. The program consists of 11 free modules giving cooks and chefs accessible training to enhance not just the food served but the whole dining experience, all while considering the economic sustainability of the menus being created. Successful completion of one or more modules gives chefs and cooks access to the Professional Community, with participants receiving a certificate of completion for each successful module.

 

Food, Nutrition and Dining Advisory Support

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has established a new Food, Nutrition and Dining Advisory Support Unit and hotline to help providers improve the delivery of higher quality and more nutritious meals in a way that works for them. The hotline is not just for people receiving care but also for aged care providers and staff who are able to call the hotline and speak with professionals about issues, concerns, or ideas that they may have regarding food, nutrition, or the dining experience of residents.

 

How Else Can Providers Contribute to a Positive Dining Experience?

Food and nutrition affect the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of residents. An enjoyable dining experience is important for residents as people who enjoy their dining experience are more likely to eat and drink well.

Aged care providers can:

  • support residents to have a meaningful dining experience by involving residents in planning and meal suggestions
  • support residents in providing feedback and assessments of their dining experience
  • provide flexible dining options and support residents to make informed choices about all aspects of their food and the dining experience
  • increase/maximise staff available at mealtime and provide assistance where needed
  • understand residents likes/dislikes and preferences
  • pay attention to mealtime enjoyment and serving meals that look, smell, and taste great
  • support residents with swallowing difficulties. Present soft foods in a way that still looks, smells, and tastes great, for example by piping or using food moulds to make food look like the original food
  • ensure each resident has access to modifications where needed such as modified tables, cutlery and aids to support residents’ independence
  • support residents at mealtime and make it about socialising rather than clinical tasks
  • act on weight loss and uneaten or unenjoyed food
  • provide staff training.

 

Additional Resources

 

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About the Author

Alyssa Kritikos

Alyssa is a Senior Legal Content Associate at Ideagen CompliSpace. Having graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney, she holds a double bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Law. She has experience working as a lawyer in both private practice and in-house roles with a focus on employment and privacy laws.

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