According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia has an ageing population with 15% or 3.7 million Australians aged 65 and over in 2016. 7.8% of them or 270,559 individuals were in Australian aged care residences at some point between 2013 and 2014.
Although Australia’s aged care system comes with a range of options to cater to an individual’s unique and personal needs, one thing that, in the past, was lacking was the food on offer.
But all this is going through some major changes that is changing the way people view food in aged care.
Our catering manager Eric Lely provided valuable insights to the ageing population’s food expectations in an article called Food Revolution.
What should be expected?
Individuals receiving aged care should be more exposed to a diverse range of cuisines than their older predecessors, what with Australia’s growing cultural diversity. It shows that residences should serve not only healthy food but also menus that will cater to the “differing tastes and preferences of their clients”.
The demand for ingredients that are fresh, nutritious, and diverse has increased significantly and shaken up the food options that many existing aged care residences have been serving. With the right changes to the menu, they can keep clients satisfied and happy.
According to a recent study, 81% of Australians would love to follow a healthy diet with a simpler approach. Their diet plan consists of balanced meals with little to no sugar and fat, and more meal options for each season, sourced locally, and free from additives.
To have a balanced and healthy life, it’s important to know what we are eating. Plant-based diets are ideal, and so is having more vegetables and fruits – especially those that add colour to the plate. It’s also important to stick to the recommended portions of foods, and to talk about food with friends.
All of the above expectations are in the process of being met. In fact, one of the many great actions regarding aged care food is the establishment of the Maggie Beer Foundation. The organisation created a training program called Creating An Appetite For Life. Working hand-in-hand with the aged care sector, they aim to improve the general standard of food served in residences. They not only look into the cooking and presentation but also the aged care menu design and the selection of ingredients used.
You likely already know Maggie Beer, celebrity chef and former Senior Australian of the Year. Her vision is to ensure that all aged care clients are provided fresh food with great flavour. She believes that catering staff in this sector need to be engaged and educated about that. She is therefore running workshops for cooks who want to make a difference.
She was first inspired to work with aged care providers when she got named Senior Australian of the Year in 2010. Her title resulted in 900 speaking requests, which included a presentation to 1000 aged care chief executives.
In the midst of her research for that presentation, she discovered a lot of things about nutrition for seniors. The research led her to establish the Maggie Beer Foundation back in May 2014. This was, of course, made with the help of people from all over Australia who are passionate about food and aged care.
Further strengthening her crusade, Creating An Appetite For Life was successfully inaugurated in 2015. The program was originally only available to foodservice operators around Victoria but has since been open to chefs nationwide since 2016. This program has helped seniors to get to enjoy better food in residences.
We completely agree with Eric Lely and Maggie Beer and are an advocate of providing fresh and healthy food for our clients.
We understand that achieving such goals is a challenging process, but Arcare is ready to take this challenge head on. We know the importance of nutrition for seniors as well as the importance of enjoying good food at every mealtime, so we will work to provide our aged care clients with a consistent level of meal options that are diverse and healthy.
If you’d like to know more about our 5-star care, give us a call at 1300 297 189.