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Dining with dignity - texture modified meals

Being treated with dignity and respect is essential to a person’s quality of life. This does not change after a person enters a residential aged care service. Standard 1 of the Aged Care Quality Standards – Consumer dignity and choice - captures the importance of a consumer’s sense of self.

When it comes to food, dining and nutrition, empowering residents to dine with dignity and ensuring a safe and enjoyable mealtime experience is as important as providing them with nutrition and hydration to maintain good health and quality of life.

Positive story:

A resident at a small residential aged care service has swallowing difficulties. The resident is unable to swallow certain foods or liquids as there is a high risk that their condition can cause the food or drink to enter their airway instead of their oesophagus.

The resident is required to have texture modified diets (TMD). This means that the texture of the foods and the thickness of drinks need to be adjusted to make them easier and safer to swallow. The resident did not want to eat in front of others as they felt embarrassed about the texture modified meals provided. They felt that the meals looked sloppy and unappetising, and very different from the food that other residents were eating.

This had a significant impact on the resident’s physical and mental wellbeing. The resident was unhappy and frustrated, and they began to lose weight and were at risk of malnutrition.

To support the resident, the service came up with a strategy to make the texture modified meals more attractive and appetising by changing the way the food was prepared and presented.

The food served to the resident with TMD is now moulded to look like the solid food that is served to other residents who do not have swallowing difficulties. For example, pureed carrot is presented in the shape of a carrot instead of scoops.

As a result, the resident is now happy to eat with the others, their health has improved, and they have regained the weight they lost.

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