Plena Healthcare Dietitians offers dietetics and menu reviews within residential aged care, to support residents in maintaining adequate nutrition, and supporting the facilities themselves to offer balanced menus.  

Aged care menus are an important focus for dietitians as they provide a foundation for good nutrition and improve food enjoyment and quality of life for residents. Throughout the year, many Plena Healthcare dietitians support their aged care homes with menu review services. Reviewing a menu may sound straight forward at first, but there are many components.  

During the menu review process, you will find our dietitians consulting with home management and food service, completing an extensive nutrition analysis, on-site observations and a comprehensive report with recommendations given to site management at the end of the process. A food plate weight (to ensure meals are the correct serving size) and food texture standards are also commonly checked during a menu review. 

Menu reviews provide certainty and clarity around meal requirements and support residential aged care homes to meet and maintain quality standards. Reviews also give a chance for client meal feedback to be reviewed and an opportunity to educate key staff about nutrition. It is expected that the menu review process and report act as a reference for best practice and highlight areas which the home may need to improve upon. 

Case study – Jim’s erratic eating habits wreak havoc on his diabetes 

Jim is 75 years old and has type-2 diabetes and vascular dementia. He moved into residential aged care following a fall at home. Prior to moving into aged care, Jim managed his insulin and blood glucose level (BGL) checks independently for over 40 years and felt confident to continue. 

Following a dietetic review, it was found that Jim often sleeps through breakfast, and often does not feel hungry until the afternoon, when he eats a large amount of processed food that he’s bought from the local supermarket or waits until the evening meal. Jim likes to snack during the afternoon on cans of coke. 

Clinical staff became concerned about Jim managing his own insulin as he would often forget to check his BGL levels, likely related to his progressing dementia diagnosis. Jim agreed to letting nursing staff check his BGL’s but wanted to continue to administer his insulin. The combination of self-administered insulin and erratic eating habits resulted in poorly controlled BGL’s with Jim having hypos in the morning and hyperglycaemia in the afternoon.  

A Plena Dietitian was then referred to support Jim. Jim agreed to having a carbohydrate-rich snack when he woke up and at supper each night in attempt to stabilise his BGL’s in the morning. The dietitian explained to Jim and staff that having regular amounts of food would support best BGL’s and prevent extremes in readings.  

Staff at the residential aged care facility were provided with education and given more information about low glycaemic carbohydrate options to offer as snacks. Jim’s GP was liaised with to best co-ordinate his insulin dosage to match his eating habits.  

Jim’s and his nursing staff are all in alignment regarding managing his diabetes, and Jim’s BGL levels are more stable.