News & Events

Nutrition a priority at OCAV

November 13, 2018

Nutritionists are working closely with staff at OCAV’s aged care facility to ensure food on the menu not only complies with nutritional standards, but also is enjoyable for residents to eat.

A nutritionist assesses every resident who comes to Liscombe House at St Helena, so that a meal plan can be developed. This involves examining a person’s capacity to swallow, weight issues or other health considerations also their likes and dislikes. The nutritionist, and often a speech pathologist, is also called in if the person’s health and wellbeing changes and a resident loses their appetite or has difficulty swallowing food of a certain consistency.

The external nutritionist does an annual review of all residents to ensure the diet they receive meets their unique and often changing nutritional needs and meets the requirements of the Australian dietary and industry standards. Menus for those in assisted living across other villages are also assessed.

The Liscombe House kitchen, under the leadership of Kitchen Manager Mani Valoo, produces almost 100 meals three times a day, not to mention morning and afternoon teas and supper.

“It is a challenge because we want their food to be an element of their care that they enjoy,” said Shaaron Robilliard, OCAV’s Director of Nursing & Quality Manager. “We have people who can eat a fairly standard meal and those who require their food to be minced or pureed. Even at that stage there are things we can do to ensure they enjoy some taste. We can vary the menu to suit most of the residents’ needs.”

Each winter and summer OCAV engages Leading Nutritionto review the seasonal menu and make recommendations on how it could be improved. The winter menu was reviewed recently and given the tick of approval, but a few suggestions will be considered, such as increasing the choices of snacks offered in a four-week menu cycle.

Most of Liscombe House’s 81 residents choose their meals each day from a menu that offers three meals at lunch and dinner. The menu contains meat, fish and salad choices and light or heavier meals depending on a person’s appetite. About 13 residents in the Leith Park units also receive a cooked meal from the kitchen.

The residents also have a say in what ends up on their plate. Twice a year a Catering Club meeting is held where the menu is discussed. Residents can raise concerns about the menu and offer suggestions. It’s also an opportunity for chef Mani to try out a few new items for residents to taste test. Residents can at any time ask for their menu to be changed using an improvement form

Mani enjoys offering the residents new foods to try and every now and again he offers meals from his own Indian cuisine for residents to try.

Shaaron said the staff, who are in the dining room during meals, monitor any residents who may be developing eating or swallowing problems. If changes are noticed, the nutritionist, and if necessary, the speech pathologist come in to assess what is wrong and what can be done.

“We take a lot of care with our residents whose needs change and residents who can no longer swallow food.  We puree their food, and offer reinforced high protein drinks. We have even added thickener to a beer so that one resident could continue to enjoy happy hour,” Shaaron said.

Shaaron said diet is one of the three things that can lead to a dramatic improvement in residents in the first eight weeks of their time at Liscombe House.

“When a person comes in here who is unwell or in decline, we immediately provide them with three things that might have been major issues for them; security, medication management and food and nutrition. Some people who were bed bound can be mobile within a couple of months once these things are provided,” Shaaron said.

“As well as providing residents with all their nutritional needs we also try and provide food and an environment that they enjoyed when they lived in their own homes. After all Liscombe House is home.”

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