Did photos of your Christmas lunch end up on social media?

A recent discovery of an aged care Twitter feed saw dozens of photos of poorly presented meals from aged care facilities.

With the Royal Commission ramping up and holding its first public hearing in Adelaide on 18 January, I am sure we will see a tidal wave of unflattering meal photos on every social media platform imaginable.

Over the last few years I have shared many meals with residents while undertaking meal reviews onsite. I eat every meal with residents, including texture modified. Many meals taste OK, even if the presentation isnt the flashest. However our expectations have risen, with Insta photos and cooking shows bombarding our senses with exquisitely presented images of food, masterfully snapped and photo shopped before being uploaded.

Contrast this to Catering staff dishing up food at the dining room with scoops and serving spoons. Most have had no specific hospitality or catering training in presentation, have no tools to aid presentation and no garnishes to add finishing touches.

In addition, the food may have been hot held for an extended time at excessive temperature to ensure the food is “safe”.

Staff often plate meals at break-neck speed from the official meal start time on the o’clock. Residents complain they wait too long for their meal. In their mind, the wait time starts from when they are ready in their room where they wait before being assisted to the dining room where they wait for the o’clock then wait for their meal. Some additionally wait to be assisted with their meal. They also wait after their meal to be assisted back to the room.

Catering staff see the wait time from when they begin serving and attempt to dish all meals in the shortest possible time. No time for frills and dilly dallying with presentation.

What we measure will become increasingly important when the new standards come in from 1 July 2019. Providers will also need to understand what is important for residents. Ticking the box on food safety, high temperatures and a main meal delivered to all residents will not cut it.

Residents will rightly expect a meal delivered to them that is good quality, nicely presented and at its optimum when they receive it.

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