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Dining in Dementia Care

Dining in Dementia Care – What works

Improving the Dining experience in Dementia Care

For care home residents, mealtimes are very important. A good dining experience can help enhance social interaction, build a sense of community and increase nutritional intake – all of which contribute to a person’s mental and physical well-being.

First impressions

It’s not just what you eat, but where you eat. A welcoming and comfortable environment, with calming décor, is an important first step in creating a positive dining experience.

Making the dining area as appealing to the senses as possible with familiar sounds, smells and food can help make eating an enjoyable social activity.

Keep the room well-lit to avoid any shadows or glares that could cause distress. Use clear signage to highlight designated eating areas, and consider the background noise.

Making the dining room a welcoming and inviting space can really help with the care home meal experience.

Address eating difficulties

Some older people, particularly those with dementia, need help and encouragement to eat during mealtimes. Remember that residents’ appetites and the speed at which they’ll be comfortable eating will vary for everyone. Using crockery and glassware that aids the person with dementia to eat and drink more can help reduce waste, improve nutritional intake, improve hydration, keep food warm for longer and reduce spillage.

Below are some testimonials from care homes to support the use of the right crockery

Blue crockery – Coloured crockery is proven to support dining when a person loses their ability to distinguish between colours.  One resident became very agitated at mealtimes and often threw his plate in anger.  When the care home introduced blue crockery, this resident could see the food on his plate and the agitation disappeared totally, enabling the resident to eat his dinner.  This resident had seen other people were eating but thought his own plate was empty.

Blue plates – One gentleman resident never ate mashed potatoes, however when blue plates were used, he cleared his plate.  Again, he could see the food and therefore was able to eat it.

Create a home-like environment

The table

A well-presented table is an important part of the dining experience. Good quality table linen, a small vase of flowers, fresh water all contributes to the overall look of the room.

The menu

Having a menu board lets people know what to expect and helps them to be clear about what they’re choosing to eat. Remember that not everyone will be familiar with the same dishes, so having a description of the food or better still visuals of the food can be helpful.

Encouraging interaction

Each mealtime offers a valuable opportunity for social interaction. Arranging tables with people grouped together in small groups can encourage interaction.

Make the food stand out
Dementia friendly dining

People living with dementia experience difficulties with their sight and their perception. This may cause them to misinterpret their surroundings. Switching from white plates to blue plates will help patients with dementia improve their eating, and as a result, their nutritional intake.

It follows research by the Dementia Centre at the University of Stirling which revealed that changing white plates for blue ones meant that people living with dementia could see the food they were eating stand out – including chicken, mashed potatoes, porridge, white bread and other typically pale-coloured favourite foods – and as a result, the average intake rose by half a pound a day.

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