While improved mealtime practices can reduce agitation, improve quality of life, and increase food intake for people in aged care, the degree of implementation of these strategies is unknown. This study describes food service practices in residential aged care facilities, focusing on units caring for people with dementia. An online survey was distributed to residential aged care facilities for completion by the food service manager (n = 2057). Of the 204 responses to the survey, 63 (31%) contained a dementia-specific unit. Most facilities used adaptive equipment (90.2%) and commercial oral nutritional supplements (87.3%). A higher proportion of facilities with a dementia-specific service used high-contrast plates (39.7%) than those without (18.4%). The majority of facilities had residents make their choice for the meal more than 24 h prior to the meal (30.9%). Use of high contrast plates (n = 51, 25%) and molds to reform texture-modified meals (n = 41, 20.1%) were used by one-quarter or less of surveyed facilities. There is a relatively low use of environmental and social strategies to promote food intake and wellbeing in residents, with a focus instead on clinical interventions. Research should focus on strategies to support implementation of interventions to improve the mealtime experience for residents.
Bibliographical noteThis article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). ©2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Aged care
- Nursing homes
- Food services