The Royal Commission into aged care, a system the authors described as “besieged by neglect”, is starting to deliver: this month the Australian government announced the roll-out of sorely needed reforms including 80,000 new home care packages worth $6.5 billion.
For people in residential aged care, providers will receive an extra $10 per resident per day, totalling $3.2 billion, to help them improve their services – and importantly, food and nutrition get centre stage.
Food and nutrition
Older Australians have long suffered from malnutrition, estimated to affect a third of community dwelling people. In aged care, it’s been revealed that a whopping two thirds of residents are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
Until now, as little as a meagre $6.08 was spent on food per person each day in Australian facilities, with dismal food quality lacking in essential nutrients. Without adequate amounts of nutritious food, health suffers, with a cascade of adverse flow-on effects for older adults and care facilities.
Protein is especially critical with aging as muscle mass declines, impacting strength, power and balance. This can result in muscle wasting and greater risk of falls, frailty, poorer wound healing, prolonged hospital stays, declining quality of life and premature mortality.
Increased intake of fruit and vegetables, rich in vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and fibre can ameliorate chronic, debilitating diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Essential nutrients also come from other plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy fats, as well as seafood.
Beyond nutrients, it’s been shown that even one extra meal a day can save lives. And at a life stage where appetite declines for various reasons, good quality food and eating environments become even more important.
For aged care providers to tap into the extra government funding to help them meet these needs, they must be willing to “formally undertake to deliver good quality and quantity goods and services; meet the living needs of residents, with a focus on food and nutrition; and submit quarterly reports.”
In addition to providing quality food and environments, strategies to help encourage older adults to eat more and reach their requirements for essential nutrients include small, regular meals and nutritious supplements such as protein shakes.
To this end, Proportion Foods has released wholesome, nutrient dense soups to boost nutrient intake as recommended by the ACI Nutrition Standards for Adult Inpatients in NSW Hospitals: “Band 1 soups provide significant nutrient value and represent a substantial part of the meal/daily intake.”
The soups provide 8g protein per serve, a smooth texture suitable for IDDSI Level 3 (moderately thick), and adhere to multiple dietary codes including gluten free, halal, vegetarian and HEHP (high energy high protein).
Get in touch with us to discuss adding these SmartServeTM soups to your hospital or aged care menu.