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It’s all in the texture: creative solutions to eating problems

The recent Four Corners exposé brought myriad issues to light, and has caused the sector to reflect. One of those issues is the food on offer to our aged care residents.

The size of meals and the nutritional value was questioned, as well as the lack of options. Recent studies have found that “funding cuts to the aged care industry impact catering budgets and aged care staffing levels, which may in turn affect the nutritional status of aged care residents”.

The average total spend in Australian Dollars on catering consumables (including cutlery/crockery, supplements, paper goods) was $8.00 per resident per day: less than aged care food budgets internationally (US, UK and Canada), and less than community-dwelling older adults ($17.25) and, even more surprisingly, 136 per cent less than for Australian corrective services.

Another concern surrounds the fact that often up to 60 per cent of aged care residents, as well as people with throat and mouth cancers, stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis and other conditions  require meals of an altered texture.

In-house production of these meals is often plagued by issues of inexperienced kitchen staff, incorrect consistency, dilution of ingredients and nutritional content, and patients’ inability to identify what is served resulting in lack of interest in eating.

Textured Concept Foods (TCF), established in Melbourne in 2013,  is one of the only companies in Australia focused on the commercial production of shaped, all natural, texture modified meals for hospitals, aged care homes and private customers.

Aged Care Insite spoke with Darren Benfell, founder and managing director of Textured Concept Foods, to hear more about the challenges of catering to those with texture-altered diets.

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  1. The size of meals and the nutritional value was questioned
    Grammatically incorrect, it should be were questioned

    Please send me the references for the figures quoted for $per day for catering in the four (4) areas highlighted in the article: residential aged care, international examples, correctional services and community care.

  2. not only do you need good nutritional meals you also need good mouth care which is often neglected and also people have trouble swallowing.