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National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care

28 July, 2020

The Australian Government Department of Health is partnering with the Maggie Beer Foundation to deliver a National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care. The Congress will bring together a select group of experts and stakeholders to harness contemporary expert views and resources. The Congress will be opened by Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, and Maggie Beer.

In its interim report, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified food as a major quality and safety issue. Improving food and the social elements of eating can reduce people’s needs for other aged care services.

Maggie Beer spoke to the Royal Commission about the need for a greater focus on food and the dining experience. She highlighted the benefits of good food on the emotional and physical wellbeing of aged care residents.  Maggie emphasised the need for transparency and knowledge sharing and for better education and training for chefs, cooks and managers preparing and delivering food in aged care.

The Department of Health has partnered with Maggie Beer Foundation, which was established in 2014 to improve the food experiences of older people, particularly in aged care to facilitate this Congress to be held in Sydney in November, 2020.

Maggie said, ‘This is such a positive step forward and a very exciting opportunity to bring all stakeholders together around the table to find real solutions that our aged care residents deserve.’

The National Congress on food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care will bring together local and international expertise and explore the relationship between good food, nutrition, the dining experience and well-being outcomes for older Australians. Experiences from large and small providers, experts from national bodies and the food industry will be showcased.

The working group advising on the Congress includes senior representatives from the major aged care sector peak bodies (provider and consumer), as well as academics, industry leaders and policy experts. This working group met for the first time on 24 June 2020.

While the focus of the Congress will primarily be on residential aged care, issues around food and nutrition are equally relevant to older people living in the community, whether they receive aged care services or not. The Congress will provide learnings across both cohorts.