Providers and aged care staff each have a role to play in delivering the right dining experience for every resident in their care. Thoughtful actions, even small ones, can lead to significant resident satisfaction.
Presentation and temperature of food and drinks can positively influence resident satisfaction. Residents tell us that they are less likely to eat meals that are not hot or cold enough (e.g., lukewarm soup or melted ice cream). Other factors that can affect the dining experience within aged care services include the environment, service, ambience, aromas, company, time provided to eat and serving size.
More ideas on how to improve meals, nutrition and the dining experience for older people at residential aged care services can be found in the Residential aged care food services discussion paper and the Analysis of food and dining experiences in residential aged care survey final report.
While delivering hot toast and fresh coffee or tea may seem simple enough, for some services the distance from the kitchen to the dining room or individual rooms can be challenging. It can result in food and drinks being served hot, sometimes lukewarm or cold depending on the length of time it takes for staff to transport the meals.
A facility manager at a small residential aged care service considered residents’ feedback which highlighted the importance of serving foods and drinks at the right temperature. Residents were not satisfied with the temperature of the coffee and toast served during breakfast - the coffee was lukewarm, and the toast looked soggy and unappealing. The facility manager looked at solutions to ensure that residents would have a good experience to start their day.
Most of the residents at this service elect to have breakfast in their rooms as it enables them choice over when they eat and when they get up.
After exploring options, the management team agreed to purchase a breakfast cart with a coffee machine and a toaster. This was specially designed for the delivery of breakfast to residents’ rooms in a timely manner and at an appropriate temperature. The aroma of the freshly made coffee and hot toast also resulted in improved resident appetite and create a positive atmosphere.
There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to food delivery, timing and temperature management. What works well in one service may not work well in others, and this case study highlights how simple and creative solutions can deliver a great dining experience for residents. Temperature of meals can also be maintained using aluminium foil, warm plates, bain maries, hot box trolleys, soup warmers, thermoses and eskies.