Nutrition: an often-overlooked vital element of quality aged care provision

Improving culture and standards around nourishing the aged must become a critical part of improved regulatory and accreditation practices.

Nutrition is often overlooked as an important factor in providing aged care services, yet it is an essential part of general quality of care—one of themes identified in the recently published Review of national aged care quality regulatory processes.

Despite clear scientific consensus that nutrition is crucial to maintain older adults’ health and independence, a number of basic food-related rights that the broader population takes for granted, are often not yet the ‘norm’ in the Australian aged care sector.

When the people we care for are undernourished they are at much greater risk of illness, injury, and premature death. Falls are more likely due to their reduced strength and physical function, their wounds will take longer to heal and are more susceptible to illness, and their immune systems are compromised.

Food also plays an important role in residents’ satisfaction with both their care and quality of life. Food and mealtimes are often one of the only normalities of life available to people living in residential care. Factors such as being able to enjoy a calm and homely dining space, having adequate time for meals, receiving visually appealing food and retaining dignity through eating have been proven to improve nutrition intake in residential care.

The recent aged care quality review outlines the need for sector-wide regulatory reform to address the general quality of care, and inconsistency in identifying quality failings within the aged care sector.

Echoing the key sentiments of the review, here are the four key changes we must advocate for to improve the culture and standard of nutrition care (open in a new window).

 

 

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