Aged care kitchens have encountered multiple changes and challenges over the past two years. In addition to adapting to the isolation of the pandemic, kitchen staff continue to build and create menus that meet both resident and industry standards.
From the introduction of new nutritional standards to additional funding such as the $10 basic daily fee supplement; food has remained a focus.
With additional funding, technology, understanding of individual preferences, allergies, dislikes and intolerances and a common goal, the future of food in aged care is looking appetising.
What will the future of aged care catering look like?
Choice will be a guarantee, not an option
Baby boomers have become the ‘dining generation’. They’re used to eating a variety of delicious, healthy, fresh, multicultural cuisine when dining with family or friends and expect this to transcend to aged care. The modern resident will be accustomed to a lifetime of choice; eating the foods they enjoy at a time that suits them.
This generation expect quality and variety of food, but also enjoy their favourites and having the autonomy to choose to eat that if they desire. While traditional, favourite dishes might not be the most flavoursome or nutritious, it is the freedom to choose that is paramount. Aged care sites of the future must guarantee resident choice and allow flexibility with dining as these will be factors of consideration before selecting a facility.
Nostalgia and formality will still play a part
There’s so much more to catering than simply the quality of the food. Food is at the heart of every care home. The production, delivery and service of food punctuates a resident’s day, every day, all day. The environment in which residents dine, also impacts their mealtime experience.
Majority of residents will enjoy dining together, not solo, and this is likely to remain in the future. Traditional sit-down meals at the dining table still provide opportunity for connection, for people to share their stories and lifetime experiences. The pandemic has demonstrated the value of in-person connection which means shared dining will continue for years to come. Due to this, care providers will need to ensure the atmosphere of the dining room is inviting and enjoyable for all.
Soup will stay on the menu
When we think futuristic food, it’s assumed old fashioned meals like soup will disappear from the menu. However, in aged care, easy to consume foods will be dished up to residents long into the future.
Soup is universal – applicable to every culture, in every country, for everyone. Not only is it easy to eat, but it’s also full of nutrients and perfect for residents who prefer lighter meals that are full of flavour. With many variants of soup recipes available, it’s easy to cater to all preferences, cultures, allergies, textures, and intolerances and meet nutritional guidelines.
Technology will integrate to the kitchen
Smart technology will rapidly change the most labour intensive and costly parts of running an aged care business. Catering operations will be easily streamlined by digitising menu planning and costing. Critical resident dietary requirements and preferences will be shared between clinical, care and catering teams instantly, on tablet or mobile. Staff will also be familiar with technology, making it easier to digitise the whole catering experience.