19 Nov The power of choice at meal times
It comes as no great shock that the Royal Commission’s Interim Report paints a grim picture of the aged care industry.
Titled ‘Neglect’, the report called for immediate action in three key areas:
- Cease the use of chemical and physical restraints
- Streamline the home care package delivery process, and
- Remove young people who have been inappropriately placed into aged care.
Another theme centred on the experience of those entering care, describing it as an “overwhelming sense of loss”, with many feeling infantilised, robbed of autonomy and an attendant loss of dignity.
Entering residential aged care – while not the preferred option for many – should not be a trigger for despair for residents and their loved ones. Rather, it should be seen as a gentle transition to a different way of living and an opportunity to build new social connections.
The power of choice at meal times
One of the simplest ways to help residents retain a sense of identity and reinforce personal preferences is to offer choice at meal times.
On average, residents spend 45% of their day dining, making it an ideal way for them to exercise choice and demonstrate individuality. Meal preferences can reflect a person’s culture and upbringing – the fundamental elements of what makes us who we are. The best kind of meal is one that we choose ourselves. Adding just this little bit of agency to someone’s day can have positive implications for mental health and wellbeing, as it demonstrates control in an environment where there may not be many other choices.
Giving residents choice is also a sign of respect – it demonstrates you care about them not just as patients, but as people with their own needs and wants. It will take time to change the negative perceptions of aged care to dispel the “overwhelming sense of loss” experienced by many, but providing choice at meal times will go some way to shifting the dial.
Despite the best intentions of many providers, budgetary constraints or inefficient food service processes may make offering choice simply unfeasible. Manual ordering and production can see choice reduced to a bare minimum, with catering teams spending more time on admin at the expense of being creative and innovative.
At SoupedUp Solutions, we make the complex simple.
Our cloud based software empowers care chefs to manage and coordinate the meal preferences of residents with ease. We facilitate menu planning, upscaling and nutrition to provide residents a truly personalised dining experience, while managing complex dietary needs, allergens and food textures.
Our new expanded digital platform to launch early in 2020 will include resident feedback surveys and budgeting tools to help chefs deliver choice and manage food costs. Our integrated software solutions will address the key requirements of the new quality standards and give catering teams the freedom to focus on producing delicious and nourishing food.