Maggie Beer's fight for better food in aged care homes

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Five years ago she set up a foundation aimed at lifting standards and she now runs training courses for cooks in nursing homes.

"A good quality meal doesn't mean an expensive meal, but it needs a lot of thought and knowledge and care," she told 7.30.

The quality of food has been under scrutiny at the aged care royal commission, which heard some homes were spending as little as $7 per resident per day on meals.

Beer gave evidence at the commission.

"If you're only spending $7 a day you're only using frozen vegetables, you're having to use pre-packaged processed foods, you're having to use boosters for your stocks," she told 7.30.

Beer said "it's not too difficult" to create a nutritious meal plan, "but you've got to really want to".

"You've got to step back and see how you can."

Residents should be fed 'beautiful food'

Beer whipped up two meals — mushrooms stuffed with lentils, walnuts and ricotta, and scrambled eggs with cream and parmesan — to show 7.30 how she thought food in aged care should be made.

"If you feed people beautiful food, full of the smells of home cooking, and give them both nutrition and flavour, flavour first, goodness and nutrition absolutely and pleasure, together, the difference to wellbeing it makes to a resident, to all of us — and there's just not that understanding," she said.

Around Australia there are 21 aged care facilities under sanction by the Federal Government for poor performance.

7.30 has learned about a third of those have been cited for nutrition and hydration failures.

The royal commission heard that a University of Melbourne study had shown a staggering 68 per cent of aged care residents were malnourished, or at risk of malnutrition.

"There are no standards, skills standards, right across the aged care industry."

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