“Don’t worry dear, you will get used to it”. “It takes a while to settle in and get used to the way things are done around here.” These are comments I frequently hear residents telling new residents in aged care facilities.
For many aged care homes and providers, tasks and a focus on compliance and safety still beat the drum. Person-centred care is the dream but far from the reality.
Is it because we have to demonstrate how we show evidence for accreditation?
– We have a nutritious, dietitian-approved standard menu.
– We give them a choice of 2-3 hot proteins at the main meal.
– We provide adequate hydration.
– We have an activities program.
Residents are not a homogeneous group when they enter your care. When it comes to meals, however, much time and effort is spent treating them as a single group with exceptions.
Residents are offered meals at the same time, meals in the same place, limited meal choices, increasing variety over time with fewer favourites each day.
If you go to a restaurant and don’t want what is on the menu, you would choose another restaurant. Residents do not have this luxury. They are also expected to eat in at the same venue 3 times a day, every day, sometimes for years.
It doesn’t take long before residents morph into one, with the odd rebel who doesn’t seem to settle down and can be counted on to complain.
It is possible
It is possible to offer residents a variety of meals they like, when they are ready to eat, wherever they would like. Technology can help in the following ways:
- Cooking equipment slow cooks meals to perfection, automatically.
- The “hot fridge” allows a variety of favourite hot meals to be available 24 hours a day, within easy access of care staff.
- Packaging to allow Chefs to cook for the day, serve for the week and have resident favourites always on hand.
- Menu ordering software allows residents, staff and family to order items that match their dietary profiles, preferences and texture.
- Catering software allows staff to pull up details by room, dining area, trays, meal type and choice, favourites, allergens, component numbers, meal size, special requirements, etc. Also aids in production scheduling, ordering, costing, budgeting and waste analysis.
- Food safety software to monitor, measure, record, alert.
- App to measure NQ (nutritional quotient) and actual consumption of what is eaten. Evidence, reassurance, compliance, cost savings, improved quality of life and resident satisfaction.
- Platform and APIs to link people, software, things. Affordable, quick to set up, agile.
Action can cure fear, hesitation and doubt. Talk about it, include innovative solutions in your strategy. Your residents will love you for it.
I look forward to continuing the conversation.