There are a variety of reasons that the elderly are at greater risk of undernutrition, these include chronic disease, taste bud deterioration, mechanical/motor issues and the onset of dementia.
It’s for this reason that in an aged care community, a holistic approach to nutrition, from clinical care through to food services, is required.
Seasons’ care partner Envigor’s clinical nurse Angela Donato-Connolly says that good clinical care can identify those residents that could be at risk of undernutrition and implement measures to ensure they’re getting enough of the right foods.
“Familiarity with a resident’s usual routines and preferences can help clinical staff notice any change in their usual nutritional intake. Small and subtle changes can often lead to a snowball effect that can lead to bigger, more difficult problems to manage. If we catch them early, interventions can be implemented at the early stages to avoid large gaps in nutritional deficits,” says Angela.
“Food holds many important social and cultural links for many Australians; these don’t disappear with age. If we can keep older Australians engaged in those aspects of sharing food and the practices surrounding it, there is a good chance they will continue to meet their own nutritional needs without the need for “intervention”.
This is where Seasons food services come in. Executive Chef Trevor Kemp says that the social aspect of food is just as important as what’s on the plate.
“Food is so important. It brings us all together and this is even more so in aged care communities. I want all our residents to have the best possible experience every time and look forward to coming into dining rooms and enjoying a freshly prepared meal with great company,” says Trevor.
For that reason, the residents are regularly consulted about the food that’s served and the menus are reviewed by a dietitian.
“I personally meet with residents at each community every six months to gather direct feedback, coupled with ongoing feedback from our staff and residents.
“We work closely with a dietitian to ensure all food served meets the residents’ dietary needs. As we age, we tend to eat less so we need to make sure our meals are well balanced and full of what we need to sustain us through the day and maintain a healthy weight. We work closely with our care partner Envigor to manage any food intolerances, texture modifications and dietary requirements as set by residents’ dietitians.”
Trevor says that he truly believes and lives by a ‘fresh is best’ approach.
“A fresh approach to our meals has been one of my main goals since taking on the role of executive chef role in 2017, replacing 95% of the frozen vegetable options with fresh options. This is, of course, more work for our kitchens every day, but our chefs continue to champion freshness,” says Trevor.
“I love what I do – whether I’m in the kitchens cooking or in the office planning the next event or next menu. I attended the Maggie Beer Foundation ‘Creating an Appetite for Life’ masterclass earlier this year to gather ideas and network with like-minded providers.”