“Food is nutrition not just for the body, but also for the soul. It’s what fires our appetite for life,” beams Australian chef Maggie Beer.
Her outlook is a big reason behind the establishment of a new federal government-funded training program to help aged care cooks and chefs deliver more nutritious, and better quality, food across the sector.
Launched this week by the celebrity chef, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Aged Care Minister Anika Wells at a nursing home in South Australia, the $5 million education and training program, to be run by the Maggie Beer Foundation, will aim to give every chef and cook working in residential aged care the opportunity to develop their culinary skills and improve food, nutrition and the dining experience for older people.
The free program includes:
- Online learning modules
- State and Territory training hubs
- A Trainer Mentor Program
- Professional Community network opportunities
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said the Improving Food in Aged Care through Education and Training program marked an important first step towards ensuring older people living in residential aged care have access to nourishing food that they enjoy and improves their wellbeing.
“This is part of our approach to help providers and workers upskill and be better educated so they can prepare and serve more delicious and nutritious food to the older people in their care.”
Participating in the three-year program will also count towards residential aged care homes meeting the draft dedicated food and nutrition Aged Care Quality Standard currently being piloted, the government said.
The program also aligns with a food, nutrition and dining advisory support unit and hotline, recently launched by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, with nursing home residents and their families now able to dob in aged care providers for serving sub-standard food, as well as access experts such as dietitians and speech pathologists.
Meanwhile, in a news-filled week for the food icon, the ABC announced plans for a new TV series, Maggie Beer’s Big Mission, focused on improving the lives of older Australians.
Currently filming in Perth, Maggie will lead an “ambitious, life-changing, social experiment”, attempting to overhaul an aged care home by transforming meals, the dining experience, and the environment, in a bid to improve the health and quality of life of residents.
“What a privilege it is to work with a [nursing] home that is brave enough to show warts and all, and the path to continuous improvement that will be necessary to bring about real change,” said Maggie about the innovative show, which is set to air on ABCT TV next year.
“We are thrilled to have Maggie Beer spearhead such an important national conversation that affects all Australians. This series will surprise and delight ABC audiences, while bringing about real-world change,” ABC Head of Factual, Susie Jones, added.
Visit the Maggie Beer Foundation website to find out more, or register your interest, for the free education and training program for aged care cooks and chefs
Call the government’s food, nutrition and dining advisory support unit hotline on 1800 844 044 with questions, concerns or complaints about food, nutrition or dining in aged care.