Blog | Angela Gifford

If an older person is asked what they would like for a cooked supper...

If an older person is asked what they would like for a cooked supper many would ask for Shepherd’s Pie or if it were a Sunday then roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. In warm weather a salad and a cold drink. If it is a piece of cake with an afternoon cup of tea, then a slice of Swiss Roll will be high on the wish list.

For people from different cultural backgrounds, requests would reflect what they see as their food of choice and if given the opportunity would like to eat.

Being cared for by relatives and friends will probably ensure that personal preferences are catered for but when care is provided by homecare staff who have half an hour to prepare lunch or supper, then personal preferences will almost certainly be abandoned due to lack of time and other care aspects taking priority.

Meals will be compromises. A carer coming in to help an older person get up and dressed and who will return in the evening to reverse the process may leave a sandwich in cling film for lunch, a mug of soup to put in the microwave and a cold drink and biscuits nearby.

Make do food, cereals, frozen meals in tin trays, microwaveable meals in plastic trays, all kinds of food in plastic packets are the staple diet of many people who are being cared for. For those of us not needing care, would we be happy with such a diet?

Food is one of the pleasures in life. Fresh food, what I fancy to eat food, the pleasurable expectation of the food chosen to eat, the accompanying sides, the relishes and the site of the prepared dish all add to the experience.

People who need care may have lost some of their mobility, the opportunity to spend a few hours away from their home in the same way as an able-bodied person. Lost opportunities to shop for their choice of foods, go to lunch in a nearby restaurant, to have a drink in a local pub or just to have coffee and a slice of cake in a local cafe.
For many older people food is almost on par with taking medication. You must eat to live, here is food.

Person centered care needs to address the pleasure of eating, to make meal times an enjoyable time in a person’s day, to make it more than just a tick on the care plan where it says "prepare breakfast/lunch/dinner and snacks".

By:  Angela E Gifford
Posted:  25 Jun 2018

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