While commonly overlooked, the stats tell the same story. Malnutrition is prevalent in the older generation, with studies suggesting the “proportion of older Australians (over 65 years of age), will increase from 13% of the total population in 2002 to 27-30% of the population in 2051”.
Earlier this year, research published in the Nutrition and Dietetic journal, found that “some nursing home providers were spending $6.08 a day for three meals per resident”. The same study also found that “half of aged care residents suffered from malnutrition, with nursing home providers cutting spending on food by 30 per cent, per resident last year alone.”
With these results in mind, some aged care communities and nursing homes in Australia have taken matters into their own hands, swapping “budget cut meals” of menus past, for something fresher and more nourishing.
Taking a scientific approach to custom-made menus and ready-meals, John Casey, National Food Services Manager of Aveo, says this new approach will help prevent weight loss and malnutrition in senior Australians.
“As you age, the requirement for protein and calcium increases,” John says. “It’s important to consume protein and calcium throughout the day in foods like meat, eggs, beans, cheese, yoghurt and milk. Older Australian’s daily calorie requirements decrease with age as they become less active. This means, in order to obtain the right amount of nutrition, it’s important to be eating good, nutritious food with every mouthful.
“With the assistance of Nutrition Professionals Australia (NPA), Aveo has taken a more scientific approach when creating a nutritional framework. NPA provides advice on how to cater for senior Australian’s dietary requirements, specifically seniors with diabetes, allergies and intolerances.”
In doing this, Aveo and NPA have developed nutrition guidelines for catering services and their ready-meal offering, Nutrition Select. “Nutrition Select’s ready-meals have been designated as nourishing with levels of protein and energy aligned with healthy eating recommendations.” Whether it’s tailored portions or the right ingredients to ensure better nutrition, these restaurant-ready meals are created with seniors in mind.”
Whether it be ready-meals or restaurant menus, chefs are aided with the right tools to help meet resident’s individual needs.
“A standard menu structure is in place with allowance for chefs to adapt and modify the menu according to the individual requests and nutritional requirements of residents,” John adds. “They are then trained to follow best practice for food quality and ensure menus are appropriate for each restaurant or dining room, in accordance with the guidelines as set out by the NPA. The overall direction is that food has been developed alongside the NPA, which ensures the nutrition support strategy together is compliant with the Care Governance Committee.”
The catering service must also comply with the same guidelines. “Chefs ensure that all meals are prepared with quality ingredients in accordance with the dietary requirements of each individual resident,” John says.
“Independent Living residents can enjoy dining from a varied a la carte menu at some of our on-site restaurants. Serviced apartments (assisted living) and Aged Care (High Care) residents’ meals are structured and supported by overall guidelines regarding adequate serving sizes and the provision of nourishing meals.”
Encouraging the social side of food, John believes the dining rooms and on-site restaurants help menus come to life. “Residents enjoy great food and a feeling of wellbeing, while sharing the dining experience in vibrant surroundings with family and friends,” John adds. “We understand that sharing food with those you love is important. You never just share a meal, you share laughter, memories and experiences with those around you.”
Aveo, together with Nutrition Professionals Australia, have developed the Better food and nutrition handbook to provide older Australians with the vital ingredients necessary to enjoy a healthy lifestyle for many years to come.
Click below to download your copy.