News & Events

OCAV joins research in a bid to reduce fractures

June 25, 2016

Liscombe House, OCAV’s residential aged care facility at St Helena, is taking part in a research project which is investigating if increased dairy consumption in the elderly will reduce fractures and preserve bone strength.


The project, by Austin Health and Melbourne University, will recruit 3000 residents in 60 aged care facilities across Victoria, including Liscombe House.


Lead researcher Dr Sandra Iuliano, from the University of Melbourne, said falls and fracture rates are highest in the elderly who are living in low-level aged care, compared to those in Residential cares or in the community. So it is this group most likely to benefit from interventions.


Dr Iuliano said low protein and calcium intakes increase falls and fracture risks because muscles weaken, balance worsens and bone breaks down more quickly, making elderly people more susceptible to fractures.


On average low-level aged care residents consume two or less serves of dairy foods per day with more than 75% of residents below the recommended intake levels for protein and calcium.


Liscombe House residents are now part of the intervention, which involves an increase in dairy products. The project aims to find out of two additional serves of dairy food per day will correct these deficiencies and reduce the rate of falls and fractures by maintaining muscle mass and function and slowing bone loss.


The two-year study is underway and at Liscombe House two residents have already been part of the full screening aspect of the project.


Shaaron Robilliard, OCAV’s Quality Manager & Director of Nursing, said Liscombe House has also been selected as one of the sites to receive extra dietary support with dairy supplies.


“All our residents are part of this section of the study. We are being supplied extra dairy components free of charge each week to enhance the working menu and ensure that the dairy recommendations are met,” Shaaron said.


As part of the research, Dr Iuliano’s nutritional team visits Liscombe House fortnightly and supports the chef and kitchen staff in a bid to increase the level of dairy used in foods served to residents.


“We have tried a few new recipes and they have been received favourably by the residents and they love the extra flavour from added cheeses, yogurt and cream,” Shaaron said.


In a report featured in Australian Ageing Agenda, Dr Iuliano said dairy was a versatile and relatively cheap food group and was also appropriate for residents on a texture-modified diet.


“Dairy foods are a good source of protein and can be easily consumed by the elderly, even for those on texture modified foods. Dairy can also be easily incorporated into a menu, by being added to meals, drinks or snacks.”


Dr Iuliano, who is a nutrition and bone health researcher, said: “In aged care there needs to be greater awareness that dairy is a really good source of protein, and other nutrients. It is not expensive, so it’s also a cost effective way of ensuring that residents are getting the nutrition that they need.”


According to Australian Ageing Agenda the cost benefit to the aged care facility and to the health system from reduced falls and fractures will also be analysed.


“The ultimate outcome we want is that residents are at lower risk of fractures, lower risk of falls, and they are enjoying the food at the same time.”


Dr Iuliano said on average, one in 10 aged care residents experience a fall and fracture.


“Ideally hip fracture is the one that we want to see less of, because that is the one that is probably the most debilitating for residents.”


Sanctuary is how artist Gillian Coates describes her home at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa. “When I go to Melbourne and I am heading back to Euroa, I can’t wait to get home to the peacefulness of this place. It is like a sanctuary for me."

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