More nutritious food needed in aged-care homes

Thursday, 15 February, 2018

More nutritious food needed in aged-care homes

Catering in aged-care homes has been criticised for a number of reasons including poor nutrition, small portion sizes and failing to meet individual requirements.

Bernadette Eriksen has been fighting to improve the lives of seniors and people suffering from swallowing disorder dysphagia by manufacturing nutrition-based food products suitable for their needs. She suggested nursing homes should do more to ensure that seniors are getting the quality food they deserve while maintaining their health and dignity.

Referring to her Brisbane-based company Flavour Creations, she said, “It’s what started me off in this business 20 years ago and, sadly, some practices have not changed.

“There is no excuse for serving up food that doesn’t provide the correct nutritional requirements. What’s worse, some facilities serve food that can’t be eaten at all or can even cause choking because the residents have a swallowing disorder.”

According to research from Monash University, there has been a 400% increase in preventable deaths over the past decade in Australian nursing homes, and choking accounts for 8% of those deaths.

Eriksen has begun to receive recognition for her efforts, winning three awards last year: the 2017 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year, the 2017 Telstra Entrepreneur Award and the Greater Brisbane Woman in Business of the Year Award 2017.

She noted the possibility that cheap operators may undercut the residential aged-care facilities that do prepare good quality food.

A recent study by Bond University also revealed that Australian care homes spend $6.08 a day to feed a resident, whereas an average of $8.25 is spent per prisoner per day on food.

While some assume that cutting food budgets benefits the system, the negative health implications associated with poor nutrition could cause much higher costs than merely investing in good quality food in the first place.

“Families have got to take a stand on this and insist that their loved ones are served food that meets their dietary and health needs and actually looks and tastes good,” she said.

Image credit: Flavour Creations.

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