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Celebrating successes in engaging people to improve food, nutrition and dining

Actively involving older people in discussions about their care can help providers make sure their services are the highest possible standard. Regularly seeking feedback and using it to keep improving food, nutrition, and dining experiences helps to support person-centred care. It also improves older people’s health, wellbeing and quality of life.

 Using this process helps providers understand each person’s preferences and create dining experiences that:

  • are enjoyable
  • support dignity
  • encourage socialisation and inclusion.

Other benefits include improving trust and strengthening relationships with staff. It can also encourage older people to take part in making decisions about the care and services they receive. This helps them to feel a sense of control and autonomy.

Celebrating success

We wanted to share some successful examples we’ve seen of providers engaging with older people and embracing feedback:

  1. Food focus groups and taste testing
    We’ve seen many providers organise regular food focus group meetings, with some inviting older people to taste test new menu items. This inclusive approach makes sure older people have a say in what is included in the giving them satisfaction and enjoyment.
  2. Resident-led engagement practices
    Some facilities have established food and dining committees led by elected resident representatives. These committees have advocated for older people leading to innovative programs like community gardens, cooking events and personalised dining experiences.
  3. Family involvement in recipe changes
    Some services host ‘family nights’ where residents and their family members share favourite recipes. Chefs and dietitians work together to include these recipes in the menu, which helps develop a sense of community and nostalgia.
  4. Improved pureed meals
    Responding to feedback from residents, one service started pureeing each part of a meal separately instead of altogether. This improved both taste and the presentation. An example is pureeing chicken, pairing with a creamy leek sauce, and having carrots, potatoes, and broccoli in individual portions, rather than a pureed chicken and leek pie. This small change shows the provider is committed to meeting people’s preferences and respecting dignity.

Engaging with people receiving care is important in making sure care is high-quality, person-centred and improves their health, wellbeing and quality of life.

More information

  • Contact our Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline to speak with a professional. You can talk about issues, ideas or concerns you have about providing an enjoyable food, nutrition and dining experience. You can contact the hotline on 1800 844 044, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm (AEST).
  • General food and dining resources: 
  • Creativity, conversation, and colouring resources – creative activities resources that aims to promote discussions about food and the life events and celebrations.
  • Goal planning tool – a planning document for providers to improve food, dining, nutrition, and consumer choice.
  • Food and dining preferences fact sheet – a planning sheet for recording a resident’s preferences around food and dining.
  • External resources, such as 'Better Together' and 'Half the Story' (a guide to  meaningful consultation with people living with dementia, families and carers), offer valuable insights into ways to effectively engage.

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