It is a common misconception that the focus of malnutrition is required to be on solely the food provided within facilities. A large contributor to consumers oral intake and quality of life is related to the mealtime and dining experience.
A pleasant mealtime experience enhances food enjoyment and promotes social connectedness with others. When consumers have a pleasant mealtime experience their appetite is usually improved and so is their oral intake. It is important that the eating environment, meal service and mealtime assistance is enjoyable, person centred and conducive to eating. Mealtime assessments by Optimum Intake Dietitians have improved the mealtime environment and reduced food wastage, increased amount of food consumed and led to high consumer satisfaction at mealtimes. Reports completed by our dietitians can provide information for the Basic Daily Fee Supplement for Food & Nutrition, utilised by Aged Care Facilities to improve the nutrition status and health outcomes of consumers. The reports contain specific and achievable recommendations to easily enhance the mealtime dining experience.
For your dining room to be conducive to eating and promote food enjoyment it is important to consider the individual consumers, their cultural background and medical conditions and your facility. Multiple factors that play a role include:
- Appropriate lighting
- Choice of furniture
- Table cloths, placements, and table arrangements
- Crockery and cutlery
- Staff availability
- Sensory ques
With these factors in mind, it is important to have a supportive and flexible environment, tailoring individual support to each consumer. In people with Dementia, it is noted that having protected and flexible mealtimes is most beneficial, through limiting distractions such as tv or loud music (eating and drinking to be the focus) and allowing for the access to meals/snacks at any time of the day. Whereas, in other consumers it is shown that a positive mealtime is one where social interactions and conversations are had, resulting in greater oral intake. Having a variety of settings for eating environment to occur within the facility can increase meal satisfaction and social interactions during mealtimes, resulting in an increase in oral intake.
Optimum Intake Dietitians are the specialists in mealtime and dining experience. Let us support your facility in making small, practical changes, that will enhance the food experience and satisfaction of consumers.
Consultation for Food & Nutrition Policy and Accreditation.
Dietitians are the experts in food & nutrition, so you don’t have to be. Within our experienced Aged Care team, we have observed what works well, what takes time and what can be improved. Our Aged Care dietitians can provide advice regarding policy and procedures, reviewing nutrition and hydration standards, updating to reflect evidence based and best practice care. Lean on our services to help assist you with achieving compliance with the Aged Care Quality Standards. We can assist with supplement processes, consumer weight reviews, food and catering reviews, and identifying opportunities for continuous improvement.