Fat and flour or decent food in aged care?

By Corin Kelly
Friday, 04 March, 2016

Maggie Beer, renowned chef, entrepreneur and Senior Australian of the Year in 2010 believes that there is so much to be done for those in aged care who are not lucky enough to be in a wonderful environment, where food, and the way it’s presented, is of huge importance. Here, Maggie discusses her motivation for starting the Maggie Beer Foundation.
I’ve seen and heard so much about the negative side of aged care, so I’m putting it out there: I want to hear good ideas and experiences that can be shared.
There are many providers and many cooks and chefs who do have a love of food and an understanding of how vital that joy of looking forward to a meal is, and there are others wanting to do more, but frustrated by the many complex issues which can overload management. This can easily result in expedient decisions being made instead of the basic premise where the kitchen is the heart of the home. By coming together and sharing the positive stories and ideas, we can make change together.
The Foundation is all about the pulling together of research that is in the world domain, but difficult to find in one place, as to how to make life better for those who are in conditions we would not accept ourselves.
This is not an easy journey as it’s an incredibly complex issue, however there is no better way to be a catalyst for change than by making it a conversation for the whole community.

I have gathered around me a committed Board for the Foundation, all with skills I’m in awe of , and over the last two to three years I have found a group of committed passionate people in all areas of aged care, all of whom want to make a difference to the quality of life of residents and aged people needing care in the community. I feel it’s like a huge jigsaw with pieces that we can pull together over time to make a wonderful picture that we can be proud of.
The Australian reports that Beer has already embarked on her first task: immersing herself in the operations of three “test case” aged-care homes in South Australia, identifying what they are doing well, and offering encouragement and advice on mealtime improvements. The work is being documented by Flinders University.
She believes encouragement, not naming and shaming, is the key to achieving broad support for change, which must begin at the top. “Yes, there is some bad stuff happening (in Australian care homes), but there is also a lot of good stuff, and if you can share these good things then you’ve got a starting point to work with,” she says.
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