An enjoyable food and dining experience is vital to the health, wellbeing and quality of life of older Australians in aged care. People who enjoy their dining experience are more likely to eat and drink well, reducing the risks of malnutrition, dehydration and unplanned weight loss.
As an aged care provider, you play an important part in ensuring the needs and preferences of the people in your care are understood and supported and that you are meeting the Aged Care Quality Standards.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has established a Food, Nutrition and Dining Advisory Support Unit and hotline to help aged care staff and providers improve the delivery of higher quality and more nutritious meals to people in aged care in a way that works for them.
For information created for older Australians, visit the Food, Nutrition and Dining resources for older Australians page.
For information for aged care workers, visit the Food, Nutrition and Dining information for workers page.
Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline – 1800 844 044
People receiving aged care, their representatives, approved providers, aged care staff, advocacy services, other health and medical professionals can call the Hotline with enquiries, questions, concerns and complaints about food, nutrition and dining.
Aged care providers and staff can call the hotline to:
- speak with professionals about issues, ideas or concerns they may have about providing an enjoyable food, nutrition and dining experience.
People receiving aged care and their representatives can call the hotline to:
- speak with professionals to ask questions, seek support and raise concerns or complaints about their food, nutrition and dining experience in aged care.
The Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline is available on 1800 844 044, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm AEDT, Monday to Friday.
More information on accessing the hotline and what to expect when you contact us can be found in our new resource ‘About the Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline – provider fact sheet’.
We've created a series of food-related resources for aged care providers and workers.
Our Food and Nutrition Expert Advisory Group helped to develop these resources. They tested draft versions with providers and people receiving aged care.
The resources are based on 4 priority areas: dining, choice, swallowing and oral health.
They're designed to help providers and workers understand:
- why food and nutrition are important to health, wellbeing and quality of life
- how they can support quality and enjoyable food and dining experiences for people receiving aged care.
- Supporting safe and enjoyable mealtimes for people with swallowing difficulties
- Manage choking risks in residential aged care
- Nutrition and texture modified food and drinks
- Supporting daily oral health care in residential aged care provider
- KNOW, LOOK, ACT: recognising and responding to oral health issues in aged care provider fact sheet
A series of webinars are available to support providers to deliver high-quality, safe and enjoyable food and dining experiences.
- Webinar 1 – The dining experience and consumer choice
- Webinar 2 – A case study in food, dining and nutrition at residential aged care provider Whiddon
- Webinar 3 – Swallowing, texture-modified diets and nutrition
- Webinar 4 – Oral and dental health and its impact on eating and nutrition
- Webinar 5 - Supporting people with dementia to eat and drink well - recording and presentation.
Goal planning tool
This planning tool helps providers improve food, dining, nutrition and choice for people receiving aged care.
Education support resources
- Food, nutrition and dining: a reflection on practice PowerPoint template for providers
- Food, nutrition and dining stand-up discussion notes for providers
The PowerPoint and stand-up discussion note resources provide suggestions for group learning experiences that provider Learning and Development (L&D) staff and managers can use during training and stand-up meetings. Their purpose is to promote discussion, reflection and education, to support staff with improving the food, nutrition and dining experience of people in their care.
Aged Care Learning Information Solution (Alis)
Our online Aged Care Learning Information Solution includes modules that support the food, nutrition and dining resources:
- Getting the dining experience right
- Supporting residents with swallowing difficulties
- Using modified food and fluids
- Supporting residents' oral health.
Creativity, conversation, and colouring resources
These new resources encourage discussions about food and the life events and celebrations that centre around food, its preparation and consumption.
Engaging older people in activities like colouring in has been shown to have a range of benefits, such as:
- reviving and stimulating memories
- preventing boredom
- significantly improving working memory in those with mild cognitive impairment.
The resources have been created by an artist who also works in aged care settings. They are designed specifically to use with older people. There are six sets of images with accompanying stories and activities.
The resources can be printed out for creative activities:
- in group settings to promote social interaction and stimulate conversations
- with family members of all ages when they visit
- with individuals to divert their attention to a pleasant project.
Resources for aged care workers
The Commission has created a suite of food, nutrition and dining resources especially for aged care workers. These resources are designed to explain:
- the important role aged care workers play in ensuring the needs and preferences of people receiving care are understood and supported
- how services and their staff are expected to meet the Aged Care Quality Standards.
For information on food, nutrition and dining for aged care workers visit Food, nutrition & dining: resources for workers.
Resources for people receiving aged care
The Commission has created a suite of food, nutrition and dining resources especially for people receiving care. These resources are designed to explain:
- what people receiving care can expect from their food and dining experience
- how they can change their food and dining experience to meet their needs and preferences.
For information on food, nutrition and dining for those receiving care visit Food, nutrition and dining for older Australians.
What residents think about the food and dining experience at their residential aged care services
In 2021-2022, we worked with the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). We surveyed residents of residential aged care services across Australia about their food and dining experience. This report was produced by Health Outcomes International (HOI). It outlines the key findings of the analysis of these survey results.
What innovations providers are using to improve meals, nutrition and the dining experience for residents at their residential aged care services
This discussion paper that looks food services in a residential aged care setting. It was published to:
- raise awareness of the impact that food, nutrition and the dining experience has on a person's quality of life, health and wellbeing
- identify evidence-based strategies to help providers improve meals, nutrition and the dining experience for residents at their residential aged care services.
To download the paper, visit the Residential aged care food services discussion paper page.
What complaints tell us about food, nutrition and dining
In 2021, we worked with the Health Outcomes International (HOI) Group. We analysed complaints to the Commission about food and dining in residential aged care from 2018, 2019 and 2020.
To find out more, visit our HOI report on food complaints page.
We welcome hearing positive stories and case studies. We also like suggestions on how we can further improve food, nutrition and dining in aged care.
Please send through your stories, case studies and ideas to email@example.com This, with feedback from the webinars, will inform further engagement and education activities for the broader sector.
You can also send us any supporting videos, photos or other visual material. Make sure you have permission from people featured in videos or photos before sharing them with us.