Nutrition and meal experience in aged care

There is an increasing focus on nutrition and meal experience for consumers in aged care – and rightly so.

26 Feb 2020

In COTA’s 2018 Project Report: Measuring Quality and Consumer Choice in Aged Care, consumers identified food satisfaction in the top five measures of quality of life.

Subjects such as meal time atmosphere; swallowing problems and texture modified diets; malnutrition prevention and treatment; along with maximising food enjoyment, have all been raised in the ongoing Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with former senator the late Barney Cooney’s submission to the Royal Commission being a powerful story to tell.

The new quality standards have increased the focus on choice, risk and quality of life – including nutrition and meal experience. 

ACSA Consultancy have identified common themes through our ongoing work with member support and highlight the importance of the following considerations impacting nutrition and meal experience:

  • Factors impacting on nutrition and quality of life is more than a menu. The dining atmosphere, equipment such as cutlery and crockery, adequate staff for assistance with meals and moving from a task model of care to a relational model of care have a significant impact on consumer nutrition, experience and wellbeing.
  • A nutritionally adequate menu (including mid-meals and snacks) that addresses the differing nutritional requirements of older people, with specific consideration for people with dementia and people on special diets such as texture modified diets.
  • Consumer engagement activities which empower consumers to influence the menu and service delivery. Where consumers are not satisfied with the meals or meal experience, actively partner with them to understand their issues, choice and preferences, and seek to find a solution that has the least restriction on their choice.
  • Assessment process to identify risk of malnutrition and choking, and strategies to prevent malnutrition and choking as well as gain information to support consumer choice and diversity.
  • Systems, processes and staff capability to identify and respond to risk of malnutrition or malnutrition in a timely manner. Response to these risks should also focus on improving meal quality and experience, and not over reliance on supplements.
  • Good clinical governance with monitoring, analysis and timely response to clinical indicators of safe and effective care, including unexplained weight loss.


Best Practice Resource

The Best Practice Food and Nutrition Manual for Aged Care (recognised as a resource in the quality standards guidance material) also provides practical strategies to improve the nutrition and meal experience for people living in aged care and is accessible freely online or in hard copy.



Save the date: 18 April 2020

ACSA and The Committee on Nutrition for Older People are proud to present a half day conference on food and nutrition in aged care, with a focus on Residential Aged Care Homes. Conference participants will hear about the food and nutrition needs and issues of older Australians in care along with practical strategies to address these.

Speakers will include nutrition experts, a provider’s perspective and success in meeting consumer’s mealtime expectations, ACSA Consultancy on common themes and solutions and the co-authors of the Best Practice Food and Nutrition Manual for Aged Care will present how the manual addresses the nutrition and hydration issues identified in the Royal Commission


Register your interest by contacting Kiki Edlund on More information on this event will be available in coming weeks, and registrations will open soon.


ACSA Consultancy provides support to members, assisting them to navigate their way through adverse compliance outcomes, improve governance and risk management and build capability through a focus on quality and workforce. Through our work on the ground, we share experience with the broader membership and identify sustainable solutions.

For information on ACSA Consultancy please contact Julie Anderson, Senior Manager Consultancy on


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