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The nutrition and dining experience in aged care significantly contributes to the overall quality of life for aged care residents while also complying with the ACQSC and aged care regulatory reforms. It goes beyond the functional aspect of eating and encompasses the sensory, emotional, and social dimensions of dining. Pleasurable meals, appealing presentations, friendly staff, and comfortable dining environments create a positive atmosphere that enhances residents’ enjoyment and satisfaction, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. By adhering to the necessary compliance measures, such as maintaining proper food safety protocols, meeting regulatory guidelines, and ensuring safe and quality care, a positive dining experience can improve consumers’ overall quality of life, making their stay in an aged care home more fulfilling and meaningful.

How The Nutrition and Dining Experience Supports Your Consumers

Health: The nutrition and dining experience directly impact the health of aged care consumers. Nutritious meals that meet their nutrition and dietary needs support physical health, providing essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. A well-balanced diet contributes to maintaining a healthy weight and managing high prevalence and high impact risks such as falls, challenging behaviours, sleep and malnutrition. By focusing on this area and ensuring residents receive adequate nutrition, aged care homes promote their overall focus on holistic health and well-being.

Dignity: The dining experience plays a crucial role in preserving the dignity of aged care residents. It involves respecting their individual preferences, choices, and cultural or religious requirements. Aged care homes that prioritise person-centered care understand the importance of treating consumers with dignity and allowing them to maintain control and independence. By offering menu choices, accommodating dietary restrictions, and providing pleasant dining environments, consumers feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Social engagement: Mealtimes provide opportunities for socialisation and interaction among aged care consumers. Shared meals foster a sense of community, companionship, and belonging. Dining areas that encourage conversation and social interaction create a supportive environment where residents can connect with one another. This social engagement not only enhances the dining experience but also positively impacts consumers’ mental and emotional wellbeing.

The dining experience in aged care homes is, first and foremost, essential for promoting the health, dignity, social engagement, and overall quality of life for consumers. In addition, conducting a dining experience audit and 360 review serves several other critical purposes including:

Quality assessment: 

Reviewing the dining experience helps evaluate the quality of food, service, and overall dining atmosphere in the aged care facility. It allows for an assessment of whether the consumers are receiving nutritious, tasty meals and if their dining needs are being met adequately. The quality assessments and on-site visit monitor compliance with the quality standards. Assessors are spending an increased amount of time with consumers asking questions and observing meal services.

Compliance and the new upcoming approved provider responsibility to legislation: 

Aged care will have to comply with the new Act and updated Standards as of 1 July 2024.We are advising providers to start reviewing the available draft standards now in preparation. (Revised Quality Standards Pages 38-41) The draft Standards dedicate a whole Standard (6) to the focus on Food and Nutrition and is a welcome and much-needed area of focus as food drives a lot of the care outcomes for consumers. 

The intent of Standard 6

Standard 6 expectation statement for older people

    • Outcome 6.1 Partnering with older people on food and nutrition
    • Outcome 6.2 Assessment of nutritional needs and preferences
    • Outcome 6.3 Provision of food and drink
    • Outcome 6.4 Dining experience

The soon-to-be-introduced ‘spot checks’ will be taking more of a risk-based approach and will sometimes include multidisciplinary team members. Risks around choking and dysphagia will form part of these checks, and processes will be thoroughly analysed, delving into the detail around how care staff identify these risks, what are the triggers for a referral, how this gets escalated and what happens to the advice received from those referrals. Regular audits help ensure compliance with these upcoming regulations and identify any potential areas of non-compliance, allowing necessary adjustments to be made and added to the Homes PCI.

Complaints, Feedback and Improvement: Gathering feedback from consumers and their families through dining experience reviews provides valuable insights into their preferences, satisfaction levels, and any areas of improvement. This feedback can be used to enhance the dining program, tailor the menu to meet dietary requirements or preferences and improve the overall dining experience for consumers. In addition, complaints related to the dining experience, such as poor quality of food or inadequate assistance during mealtimes, are often investigated by the ACQSC to ensure that appropriate action is taken by the aged care provider.

Accreditation process: During accreditation, the dining experience, including food preparation, nutritional standards, menu planning, and the overall dining environment, is assessed to ensure compliance with the quality standards. Consumer feedback plays a vital role and may be a focus for the Consumer Advisory Board from December 2023. 

By scheduling an Anchor Nutrition and Dining Experience Audit with Sarina Rodgers, the lead for Operations and Hospitality Services, you will be able to demonstrate transparency and accountability to your consumers, their families, and regulatory bodies, showing a commitment to continuously improving the quality of care you provide. 

What the audit includes;

  • One dedicated Anchor Leader onsite for one day
  • A 360 review audit aligned with the existing Aged Care Quality Standards and lensed with the revised Aged Care Quality Standards (due to commence 1st July 2024)
  • Consumer consultation sample depending on the size of the home and provider requirements
  • Full access to the audit with suggested strategies and actions for continuous improvement
  • One-hour debrief with the Anchor Leaders and relevant stakeholders.
  • *Optional follow-up onsite visit at three months post initial audit to track progress and outcomes. 

The cost


*Additional cost 

Enhance the quality of your nutrition and dining services and support the physical, emotional, and social well-being of residents. 

Book an Anchor Nutrition and Dining Experience Audit today. Email

Claire Ward

Head of Marketing

Sarina Rodgers

Quality, Hospitality and Client Engagement Consultant