Importance of dining and drinking

The dining room is the most important social aspect of residential aged care. By Karen Abbey

The dining room not only provides a place for residents to receive nourishment, it’s also a place for them to gather together and be social in the home.

The importance of food and fluids

Apart from the nutritional benefits of foods and fluids, eating also provides comfort and a sense of self. Everyone has their own unique food pattern and preferences.

These patterns are built up over a life time and have been influenced by our surroundings. The menu should reflect what the residents want to eat and be made up of foods which resonate with their life experiences. Meals should be looked forward to.

When it comes to meal times, the dining room is a place which gives residents a place to enjoy a nice meal.

Importance of the dining room in residential aged care settings:

  •     Provides a social meeting place
  •     Provides a different part of the building for residents to go and use throughout the day
  •     Provides a place for residents to sit down and talk to others
  •     Provides a place for family and friends to spend time with residents and assist at meal times
  •     Provides a place where staff can be more interactive with all residents
  •     Helps to ensure that residents are eating and drinking enough food
  •     May provide additional support and encouragement to residents who are unable to feed themselves

Key factors of dining room design and set-up:

Design: It is important to allow adequate space for wheelie walkers, gel chairs and beds so that residents can come into the dining room for social interaction

Food delivery: The dining room and the food service are should be carefully considered so each system complements the other; the process of serving meals is seamless, and food is being sent out at the correct temperature

Social compatibility: Residents should be matched so that they are compatible socially and have some common interest with the other residents sitting at the same table

Meal timing: When serving meals, it is useful to alternate which table is served first in the meal service

Assistance: Prior to serving a meal, residents should be set up correctly and be able to easily access their meal

Comfort: It is important to ensure the room has adequate light and is a comfortable temperature for residents

Supervision: It is necessary for the dining room to be supervised by staff at all times

Independence: Each resident should have the necessary eating utensils and support that is needed to enjoy the meal as independently as possible

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