The importance of quality nutrition in aged care

SPC
Thursday, 01 April, 2021



It is timely that we focus on the ever-important nutritional needs of our older Australians. With the recent findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the importance of good nutrition is highlighted for both our aged care residents and older people who are still residing at home.

The alarming statistic that 68% of those receiving aged care are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, coupled with the paltry food spend highlighted in the report, which can be as little as $6.08 per resident per day in residential aged care facilities, highlights the need for drastic improvements. It is no surprise that a key recommendation for immediate change is to increase the basic daily fee by $10 per resident per day. It’s important to understand that this basic daily fee goes towards the provision not only of meals but other requirements such as cleaning, laundry, and facility management1. It is hoped that a significant part of this recommended increase will go specifically toward meal provision for the aged care residents.

Receiving the right amount and quality of food through a varied diet helps to maintain good health for aged care residents. It is also important for the dining experience to be socially enjoyable, which contributes to overall health and mental wellbeing. Not consuming enough of the foods required each day can mean that their needs for essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and macro nutrients like energy (kilojoules or calories) and protein are not being met. This places our aged care residents at risk of malnutrition and further health concerns.

Malnutrition impacts multiple aspects of care. It contributes to reduced strength, muscle wasting, slower wound healing and increased risk of falls. Therefore, proper diet options with key nutrients can improve quality of life and overall wellbeing.

Protein is a key nutrient that is essential to the daily diet. Many parts of our body are protein-based, including our brain cells, muscle, skin, and nails. Protein needs to be eaten daily to help cells grow and repair and to maintain muscle mass and strength. Good sources of protein include lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and legumes2.

Fibre, too, is equally important as it helps with bowel regularity and can help with treating constipation. Getting older, as well as a number of lifestyle factors such as a change in routine and not eating enough fibre, can all contribute to constipation. Increasing how much fibre is consumed, as well as drinking more fluids and regular exercise can all assist with maintaining good bowel health. Good sources of fibre include wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes3.

To maintain a healthy weight, enough energy (kilojoules or calories) for an individual’s requirements needs to be consumed and this is based on age and activity levels. Energy comes from all the various foods and drinks ingested every day. Not consuming enough energy can cause weight to decrease4.

It can be challenging meeting varying food preferences, dietary and cultural needs, both in residential facilities and in the home. To assist with access to quality meal options, SPC has recently welcomed the Kuisine Company into their family. The Kuisine Company manufactures a range of high-quality, nutritious and tasty ready-made meals under the Good Meal Co brand that can be used to provide extra choice in aged care facilities as well as being able to be ordered direct to home. All Kuisine products are manufactured in Australia in state-of-the-art facilities, which have attained the highest food accreditation for quality and food safety.

The Good Meal Co nourishing meals provide energy, protein and key micronutrients needed for good health. There is an extensive range of traditional home style meals, culturally specific meals, snacks, desserts, and breakfasts.

The SPC ProVital fruit range is also available into the home through the Kuisine Company within the fruit snack category. A great choice currently available is the SPC ProVital Fibre Right + Protein Apple Puree. This convenient snack packs a punch, providing an extra 668kJ of energy, 10.3g Protein and 7.0g Fibre.

For a full list of the tasty Kuisine meal range as well as the SPC ProVital range, visit the delicious meal options via the Good Meal Co website: https://goodmeal.com.au.

References

  1. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect. Volume 1 Summary & Recommendations. 2021. Available @ https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/final-report
  2. Protein Fact Sheet. Better Health Channel. March 2020. Available @ https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/protein
  3. Constipation Fact Sheet. Better Health Channel. Aug 2014. Available @ https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/constipation
  4. Balancing Energy in and Energy Out. Better Health Channel. April 2018. Available @ https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/energy-in-and-energy-out

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Alexander Raths

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