The Maggie Beer Foundation (MBF) has delivered a comprehensive report to the
Department of Health on food, nutrition and the dining experience in Aged Care.
The report, prepared with Deloitte, is the result of Australia’s very first National Congress on Food, Nutrition and the Dining Experience in Aged Care. It highlights 56 findings and 139 possible action points across nine key topic areas, many of which align with the recommendations identified in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report.
“We know the role of food in aged care is currently undervalued. Focusing on food and
appetite and, in doing so, good nutrition, stimulates the senses, supports health and
wellbeing, provides pleasure, conveys respect and care and acts as a facilitator for social
interaction,” said Maggie Beer.
The National Congress, which was held in Sydney on February 18 and 19, brought together
local and international experts to discuss the relationship between good food, nutrition, the
dining experience, and wellbeing outcomes for older Australians.
In determining opportunities and best practice, the working group identified these themes:
• Food, nutrition and the dining experience is an urgent issue. Australia is not the only
country with these issues and would benefit from increased international collaboration
• There is variability in the quality of meal experiences with some homes
demonstrating initiatives to improve practices but many homes exhibiting poor practices
• There is a lack of transparency and accountability in the delivery of food, nutrition
and the dining experience. Best practice screening and reporting on malnutrition,
• The workforce engaged in the planning, preparation and serving of food is, in many
instances, not adequately rewarded and lacking in the skills necessary to fulfill their
roles to minimum standards. Elevation of the roles of chefs and the introduction of
training programs are required to improve the quality of the workforce
• Health and allied health professionals including GPs, Dietitians, Speech Pathologists,
Occupational Therapists, Dentists and Dental Hygienists, Mental Health workers,
Podiatrists, Physiotherapists, and others are not adequately available to residents.
The creation of multidisciplinary teams was well supported
• Oral health of residents coming into aged care is not always good and increased
dental services within aged care will alleviate many eating problems
• Mechanisms to ensure collaboration between management, nursing staff, cooks and
chefs and Resident Foodie Groups will result in foods that better suit cultural and
residential diversity and provide greater choice
• The joy of food can be increased by infrastructure changes that remove institutional
food preparation practices and large dining halls, replacing them with accessible
home-styled kitchenettes where food can be plated appealingly, where residents can
participate, where the aromas and flavours of fresh food drive appetite
“The findings of the National Congress and its close alignment with the recommendations of
the Royal Commission into Aged Care final report is such a positive step forward and an
opportunity to bring all stakeholders together around the table to find real solutions that our aged care residents deserve.”
“There are so many people in aged care working so hard but often without the support or
being empowered to do things better but when given the respect together with the skill, the practical ideas along with the inspiration, it is an incredibly powerful thing that we have seen individuals bring about amazing change”, said Maggie.
Established in 2014, MBF has been instrumental in advocating and working to improve food
experiences for older Australians.
The subsequent findings and action points detailed in the report will inform future
Government policy relevant to food and nutrition in the sector