9.2 Supporting nutrition in healthcare settings Listen

Older people living in residential accommodation may need help getting sufficient and balanced nutrition. It’s important to give them a pleasurable mealtime experience and to create peace and a good atmosphere around the meal. Prepare both the person and the dining area ready for the meal. Ideally, individuals should be well rested so that they are able to make the most of the mealtime. You should also ensure that everyone is clean and properly dressed when coming to the meal. Help the person to find a good eating position. They may have very different preferences around socialising at mealtimes and this should be respected. The elderly often have preferred places to sit, for example.

It helps if the meals are attractive and nutritious. Drinks such as fruit smoothies work well in this regard. The person’s senses can also help to stimulate appetite. Encourage them to smell the food and talk about how it looks and smells with you. Provide different types of food and adapt the consistency for their needs.

After meals, the person you are caring for should sit up for about 15 to 30 minutes, as this facilitates emptying of the oesophagus, promotes bowel movements and prevents aspiration into the lungs.