The Maggie Beer Foundation (MBF) is calling on multidisciplinary food and nutrition professionals to join forces to enact critical change needed to improve aged care population.
The Foundation wants to build an ‘Alliance of the Willing’, bringing together experts from across the country, including chefs, cooks, scientists, dietitians, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, medical experts, philanthropists, corporations, peak bodies, governments, and organisations who have the experience, expertise, passion, and heart to improve the quality of life of older Australians through the joy of healthy, tasty, fresh food.
The formation of the Alliance is an outcome of the National Congress on Food, Nutrition and the Dining Experience in Aged Care, which was jointly facilitated by the MBF and the Department of Health.
The Congress brought together both local and international experts to discuss the relationship between good food, nutrition, the dining experience, and wellbeing outcomes for older Australians.
In determining opportunities and best practice, the Congress working group identified 56 findings and 139 possible actions across nine key themes to address the current pressure points experienced in Aged Care.
The findings aligned closely with the recommendations published in the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care and include:
- Food, nutrition and the dining experience is an urgent issue. Australia is not the only country with these issues and would benefit from increased international collaboration
- There is variability in the quality of meal experiences, with some homes demonstrating initiatives to improve practices, but many homes exhibiting poor practices
- There is a lack of transparency and accountability in the delivery of food, nutrition and the dining experience. Best practice screening and reporting on malnutrition, quality of life and food experiences will improve outcomes for residents and their families
- The workforce engaged in the planning, preparation and serving of food is, in many instances, not adequately rewarded and lacking in the skills necessary to fulfil their roles to minimum standards. Elevation of the roles of chefs and the introduction of training programs are required to improve the quality of the workforce
- Health and allied health professionals, including GPs, Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Dentists and Dental Hygienists, Mental Health workers, Podiatrists, Physiotherapists, and others, are not adequately available to residents. The creation of multidisciplinary teams was well supported.
“While adequate food and nutrition is essential to sustain life, health and a reasonable standard of living, food is also a fundamental part of how we enjoy life with our family, our friends and loved ones, how we express our ethnicity, our religious beliefs, our culture and our language,” said Maggie Beer.
“Great food served well has the power to bring moments of joy to each day, even in the face of advanced dementia. For too long, food has not been seen as a priority in Aged Care – it has often been an afterthought, bundled with other operational services, such as laundry, cleaning and gardens.”
“The Maggie Beer Foundation is excited to further address the key issues by initiating and leading the Alliance of the Willing. This is a crucial step and the opportunity to collaborate with some of Australia’s most talented and passionate professionals provides us with a chance to enact real change,” she said.
To find out more about the Alliance or to view the National Congress Findings Report Food, nutrition & the dining experience in aged care head to https://maggiebeerfoundation.org.au/