Investment in a best practice food model is a sound business decision as it delivers tangible returns in improved resident satisfaction, compliance, health outcomes, and value proposition, thus increasing occupancy and financial returns.
Food is a vital contributor to residents’ physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. However, food and nutrition are consistently a top complaint issue in residential aged care and have been identified by the Aged Care Royal Commission as a top priority concern for immediate attention.
The Government has provided additional funding and committed to reforms to incentivise providers to improve their food models. This includes:
▪ Introducing new mandatory quality indicators to report against critical care areas which food and nutrition can directly impact;
▪ Review of the Aged Care Quality Standards on measures relating to food delivery and the dining experience;
▪ Publishing survey outcomes on My Aged Care of residential aged care consumers on how they like their food through the Star Ratings; and
▪ Appointment of a nutritionist to the new National Aged Care Advisory Council to improve food in aged care.
These new measures will increase scrutiny into the cost and quality of food services and will require providers to invest significantly more resources into gathering, analysing, and reporting on their food and dining models, and demonstrating evidence of resident engagement and continuous improvement. Failure to do so will risk non-compliance and likely result in detrimental impacts to the provider’s value proposition and occupancy.
Embrayse has engaged with residents and providers across aged care homes to explore the best practice elements that make the real difference in resident satisfaction with food and dining models. In a nutshell, residents are looking for person-centred food and dining models that reflect a genuine and sincere respect and interest for each individual’s needs and preferences for food and drinks that they like, that are familiar to them, and that bring them joy and comfort.
Our research and experience have highlighted seven best practice elements to support a person-centred food and dining model to enhance the wellbeing of residents in aged care. These are summarised below and discussed in greater detail with practical examples in our Guide to person-centred food models in aged care – 7 insight bites to achieve excellence beyond compliance, which can be downloaded below. These insights range from focusing on “the little things”, to promoting meaningful choice, to building excitement and anticipation around food. We also touch on the role of technology and software like Embrayse in making the delivery of these food models a reality rather than an impracticality.
With so many residential homes currently running at a loss, it can be difficult to commit additional resources into improving food models. However, investment in a best practice food model is a sound business decision as it delivers tangible returns in improved resident satisfaction, compliance, health outcomes, and value proposition, thus increasing occupancy and financial returns. With the anticipated increase in scrutiny and the compliance burden related to food, the greater risk will fall on those who do not invest appropriately on improved person-centred food models.
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