In a pioneering move, Madeira Lodge Care Home in New Romney is transforming the culinary journey of its residents
Madeira Lodge Care Home in New Romney is revolutionising the way residents enjoy their meals with a new dining experience designed to enhance their nutritional intake and wellbeing.
With a focus on creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, the care home's new approach has already had a significant impact in reversing weight loss and improving the nutritional wellbeing of many residents.
Karen Way, Madeira Lodge Manager says: “We are thrilled to introduce this new dining experience at Madeira Lodge Care Home. Our residents deserve the best possible care, and we believe that this new approach will help to improve their quality of life. We have already seen some fantastic results, and we look forward to continuing to support our residents in this way.”
The new dining experience includes a range of delicious and nutritious meals, prepared by the home's experienced chef. Menus are developed in consultation with residents ensuring their preferences are catered for. Meals are served in a comfortable and welcoming dining environment, with attentive staff on hand to provide support as needed. The care home has also invested in new dining tableware, creating a more enjoyable and homely experience for residents.
Since the introduction of the new dining experience, many residents have reported an improvement in their nutritional intake, as well as a reversal of weight loss. The relaxed and welcoming atmosphere has encouraged residents to take their time with their meals, enjoying the company of fellow residents and the care home staff who are encouraged to also take a seat at the table.
Crafting a comfortable and familiar dining environment can yield significant benefits for individuals living with dementia and Dysphagia. Many of these individuals often face difficulties with eating and drinking due to factors such as confusion, forgetfulness, sensory changes, and physical challenges. Enhancing the dining experience can help alleviate these difficulties, leading to an improved overall quality of life. Let's explore how this can be achieved.
Visual Cues: Properly setting a table with distinct crockery can provide visual cues about the meal time process. Plates, bowls, cutlery, and glasses can help remind individuals of the steps involved in eating a meal.
Familiarity and Comfort: Familiar patterns, colours, or types of crockery can help make individuals with dementia feel more at ease.They may recognise these items from their past, which can trigger positive memories and help them feel more oriented and connected to their environment.
Stimulation of Appetite: Using colourful tablecloths and contrasting crockery can make food more visible and appealing, thereby stimulating appetite. Many dementia patients may suffer from reduced appetite, and anything that makes food more enticing can help.
Reduced Distraction: For some individuals with dementia, overly ornate or cluttered table settings can be distracting or confusing. A simple, clearly set table with plain table cloths and minimal distractions can help them focus on their meal.
Independence: Providing a suitable environment can aid with independence. For instance, certain types of crockery that are easy to grip or are designed to prevent spills can make self-feeding easier.
Safety: Break-resistant and easy-to-grip utensils, plates, and cups can prevent accidents. They can also make it easier for a person with dementia to eat and drink, especially if they're experiencing difficulties with motor skills. Dysphagia can lead to complications like choking and aspiration pneumonia (where food or drink enters the lungs). By providing a calm, unhurried dining environment, individuals are less likely to rush or become anxious during meals, reducing the risk of these complications.
Consistency: Maintaining a consistent routine, including where and when meals are served, can be comforting and reassuring to a person with dementia. The consistency includes the table setting.
Nutrition and Hydration: First and foremost, the goal of any dining experience for someone with dysphagia is to ensure that they can safely consume enough food and liquid to meet their nutritional and hydration needs. A positive dining experience can encourage them to eat and drink more.
Enjoyment and Quality of Life: Eating is a significant part of life, and it involves more than just the intake of nutrients. It's a sensory and social experience that contributes to an individual's quality of life. For those with dementia and dysphagia, enjoying food can be challenging. However, creating a pleasing dining atmosphere can help to preserve the joy of eating and improve overall wellbeing.
Social Interaction: Meal times provide a natural opportunity for social interaction. For those with dementia and dysphagia, who may feel self-conscious about their condition, a supportive and understanding dining environment can help maintain these important social connections.
Independence and Dignity: Using adaptive utensils, serving modified but visually appealing meals, and ensuring a comfortable and supportive dining setting can help individuals maintain their independence and dignity.
The important thing is to create a supportive, stress-free environment that encourages the individual to eat and enjoy their meals. Dementia and dysphagia present a significant challenge for many individuals. It can make eating not just physically difficult, but also emotionally distressing and socially isolating. Therefore, it's essential to focus on enabling dining experiences which maintain the overall quality of life for individuals in our care.