When we talk about food in aged care homes, what is the definition of choice? Does it mean that there are at least 2 choices of meals at all main meals? What happens when someone requires a pureed diet, what happens to their choices then?
Our experience shows that many homes only offer 1 hot choice at the evening meal, although salads and sandwiches are the usual alternatives, and perhaps 2 at the main meal in the middle of the day. If a resident has a swallowing difficulty, often their food preferences are ignored and they will receive the same meal as every one else. It is very challenging to provide a choice of different pureed meals, although if we allow the resident choice, this is required.
Choices at breakfast can include a range of cereals, toast and spreads. If a cooked breakfast is offered, there also needs to be choice - is it eggs or baked beans, mushrooms or tomatoes. We need to ensure the resident has real choice at all meals, to keep them well nourished and maintain their quality of life.
A cleverly designed menu with appropriate skilled staff can provide residents ample choices throughout the day.
About the Author: Nutrition Professionals Australia is a team of Accredited Practising Dietitians who consult to aged care homes across Australia. They have more than 40 years of combined experience in a range of roles, as Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitians, Food Services Coordinator, Residential Site Manager, Author of Nutrition Manuals and Consultant Dietitian.
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