World renowned chef and author, Peter Morgan-Jones, discussed strategies for improving nutrition in aged care facilities with an enthusiastic audience at the Bond University Nutrition and Dietetics lecture recently.
The Hammond Care executive chef and food ambassador has cooked for the British Royal Family and recently co-authored a book entitled 'It's all about the food not the fork!', which is full of meals for consumption without cutlery, aimed at restoring dignity and the enjoyment of food for those in aged care.
Mr Morgan-Jones drew on his experience alongside some of Australia's most well-known chefs, including five years as head chef at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and his experience cooking at world-class restaurants in Bermuda, Germany and London.
His presentation focused on his mission to bring delicious and nutritious food to older people and those with eating difficulties, along with ways that these practices can be implemented Australia-wide.
Organised by the Bond University Nutrition and Dietetics program, the discussion showcased various ways of improving the quality of life of aged care residents through the joy of food.
Bond University PhD student and aged care dietician Cherie Hugo, who founded the Lantern Project in 2013 - an investigation into food and nutrition in elderly Australians - also provided an update on her research in the area.
"Peter is doing a great job of spreading awareness and restoring the dignity of residents and their enjoyment of food in these facilities, which ties into the studies we have conducted on the importance of satisfying meals in aged care facilities," she said.
"My study found there is a strong connection between pureed foods (often related to dental health problems) and quality of life in aged care facilities.
"As part of my research findings, I have launched the Explore App, which allows aged care residents, staff and family members the opportunity to supply feedback on their food and dining experiences.
"Food memories offer a great deal of insight into mealtime values – we can capture and quantify these insights through the app to identify key priorities to improve the dining experience for our elderly.
"This will assist in better understanding what residents like or dislike about mealtimes - whether it be the flavour of the food or the experience of eating - so we can target future strategies for facilities to improve intake and mealtime enjoyment.
"Nearly everyone has an aged care food memory - we are welcoming both positive and negative memories to be shared via the app, and plan to share learnings directly back to the industry through The Lantern Project."
Ms Hugo said she had collaborated with Mr Morgan-Jones on The Lantern Project to help change the everyday lives of those living in aged care facilities and the implementation of the Explore App was an important step in achieving this goal.
"As a dietitian, I am about ensuring the meal choices are packed with nutrients, whereas Peter is about providing a wonderful food and dining experience, together I believe we can make quite a change to the overall experience of aged care residents," she said.
“During the session, Peter demonstrated his cutlery-free food and captured the reactions of guests, in order to show that with a little imagination and love, you can improve the overall dining experience.”
The Explore App is available for download through app stores or The Lantern Project website at www.thelanternproject.com.au – click on the ‘How you can get involved’ tab and choose ‘Share your story with us’.