Can you imagine not being able to choose what you eat or be presented with an indescribable mixed puree meal on a daily basis? This is the reality for many people in residential care in Ireland. A Peamount Healthcare multi-disciplinary team project to address this problem was runner up in the Astellas Changing Tomorrow 2012 Awards this month.
The team, drawn from Peamount Healthcare’s Nutritional Steering Group, consisting of residential clients, catering, nutrition and speech and language therapy representatives was set-up to listen and respond to client wishes in relation to their meals. Specifically, the team endeavoured to provide ‘Tasty, Healthy, Meal Choices For All’. The objectives were to provide residents with safe, high quality food, especially for those on a modified diet, promote awareness amongst all caregivers around the resident’s needs and wishes and to provide a menu choice that is nutritionally complete, and above all – tasty!
Following a survey of residential clients in Peamount in July 2011, a series of proposals were agreed that included Chef and staff training, revised menus offering a wider choice, especially of healthier options and “soft foods”, and improvements to the appearance, flavour and texture of pureed meals.
The new menus offer five meal choices at least two of which can be modified and there is always a traditional, international and heart healthy choice. The new menu cycles were rolled out in April 2012. A follow-up satisfaction survey was completed in July 2012 and found a 91% overall satisfaction rating with the taste, choice and presentation of food. As one resident said “I’ve noticed a big difference with the new menus, much more choice and more flavours”.
This project highlights the benefits of improvements to the dining experience for residents and the impact this has on their quality of life. It also emphasizes the importance of residential clients’ involvement with catering in a healthcare setting.
As the specialist Chef from Fresenius Kabi, a clinical nutrition company that collaborated with Peamount, commented “What you have set out to achieve is commendable and unique…. I feel this is a standard that everyone should reach for….it’s a model I will be promoting”.