At BaptistCare, we are passionate about delivering a positive dining experience, with delicious food in a homely environment. From resident-led menu design to innovations in texture modification, high-quality care home catering is something we care deeply about.
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02 May 2023
| Aged Care Homes
When it comes to ageing well, there is no doubt that maintaining a healthy diet is crucial. An apple a day… well, you know how it goes.
For elderly people living in residential care, the day-to-day dining experience has a big impact not just on physical health, but on emotional well-being too.
Part of the reason for this is that food is not just about calories and nutrients; sharing a meal is a deeply social and cultural experience. What and how we eat reinforces our sense of identity, reflecting our individual cultural beliefs and values.
At BaptistCare, the role – and the challenge – for our aged care home kitchen teams is to cater to each resident’s unique preferences, while serving up delicious food that keeps them healthy and strong for as long as possible.
But what does this mean in practice? Let’s dig in and find out.
It’s hard to imagine the care and consideration that goes into a BaptistCare residential care home menu. Prepared on a seasonal basis to ensure the freshest of ingredients, the menus go through a rigorous design process that involves many experts in the field.
This includes, most importantly, the aged care home residents themselves. As the primary consumers, they are rightly considered subject matter experts and are consulted on their personal and cultural preferences as the first and most crucial step in the process.
Menus are often international, incorporating dishes from around the world, and which are culturally meaningful for many in the care home community.
Input is then sought from dieticians and nutritionists to ensure that meals are satisfying, tasty, varied, and meet the nutritional needs of older people.
Once the menu has taken a clear shape, senior chefs and residential aged care home management recirculate the draft to residents for final review. It is then ready to be implemented across BaptistCare’s aged care homes.
Once the menu is launched, residents can still request customised dishes based on their personal and cultural preferences.
But what’s on a typical menu? And how do chefs, residents, and experts decide what to include?
Ensuring that meals are fortified with nutrients for a healthy, balanced diet, is important for everyone - but particularly so for seniors.
A healthy diet can significantly boost immunity and prevent unintentional weight loss, both important factors to consider when meal planning in aged care.
Chefs will also think about the impact of good nutrition on residents’ mental health, an aspect of menu design that is often overlooked.
According to Beyond Blue, people living in residential aged care are at a far higher risk of experiencing depression than other groups in society, making feel-good foods even more crucial in this setting.
For example, BaptistCare chefs always incorporate foods like fish and vegetables into the residential aged care home menu, which are high in omega-3 fats. These are thought to impact the functioning of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is important in the regulation of mood.
Foods on the care home menu are also naturally fortified with ingredients like butter, full-cream milk, lentils, and chickpeas.
But it’s not all salads and seeds - residents like to indulge occasionally too, and you really can’t beat a delicious slice of cake with a cuppa.
Residential aged care home staff will never deny residents anything they’d like to eat (within the parameters of dietary compliance) – it’s their home, after all. But if the frequency starts to impact wellbeing, that’s when staff will work with the resident to find a happy, healthy medium.