09 Nov Counting the macros is only part of the solution
Dietetically assessed recipes and agile digital menu management are important but don’t forget the dining experience!
Malnutrition among the elderly is a perennial concern. As we age and become more sedentary, we naturally lose our appetite. Combine this with conditions such as dysphagia or teeth/denture problems, the effects of medications and complex medical conditions means ensuring our elderly receive adequate nutrition can be a real challenge.
Increasing protein in the diet is a logical frontline defence against malnutrition, as it plays a vital role in maintaining muscle strength and functionality as well as promoting wound healing.
Australian Ageing Agenda’s recent article about Dr Sandra Luliano’s research of residents’ intake of protein-based dishes highlights the inadequacy of protein in resident diets. The research suggests that “a lot of dishes contained less protein than the recommended amount. And if residents are not provided with enough protein in the food they’re given, they’re less likely to be able to reduce the risk of malnutrition.”
Further, Dr Luliano’s study indicates “there is insufficient nutritional information across aged care providers and that when changes are being made to a menu, it is important that items are substituted like for like.”
SoupedUp’s care catering software addresses both these challenges head on.
With dietetically certified menus and over 1200 recipes complete with nutritional and allergen labelling, aged care facilities can plan menus with confidence, knowing that not only are residents’ nutritional needs being satisfied, the risk of providing allergen-contraindicated foods is also reduced.
The power of real-time ordering means if meals need to be swapped out, for example if a resident is vegetarian, they can be quickly matched to recipes of similar or same nutritional values.
But even if you get these things right, there will always be residents who may not fully consume the meal served to them. Belinda Adams, CEO of SoupedUp says: “Aged care facilities that use our menu management platform employ professional chefs and catering teams, who demonstrate incredible passion and meticulous planning in their menus. However, there’s no guarantee a resident will take in all those macronutrients if they have poor appetite due to medications or complications with chewing or swallowing.”
This is where the ability to adapt recipes to suit texture modified or individual diets and to serve meals in beautiful spaces that stimulate the appetite and the senses is almost as vital as getting the macro nutritional values right.
Facilities that approach these issues from both an environmental and food service perspective are much more likely to succeed,” Adams concludes.