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First Parliamentary Friends meeting offers food for thought

The inaugural meeting of the recently formed Parliamentary Friends of Ageing and Aged Care Group was held on 14 February with a focus on one of aged care’s hottest topics - food.

Well-known culinary personality Maggie Beer was the guest speaker at the first Parliamentary Friends of Aged Care meeting (Source: ACSA)
Well-known culinary personality Maggie Beer was the guest speaker at the first Parliamentary Friends of Aged Care meeting (Source: ACSA)

Running with the theme of ‘Loving food at any age’, the first meeting of the new forum for advocates of older Australians, saw aged care peak bodies Council on the Ageing (COTA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) come together, alongside guest speaker and renowned foodie Maggie Beer.

COTA co-hosted the event with Chief Executive Ian Yates saying the meetings aim to speak with Members of Parliament about a range of issues that affect older Australians, including the quality of food in aged care which he adds is one of the most common areas of complaint by aged care residents or their families.

“[The] inaugural Parliamentary Friends event on Valentine’s Day [was] about putting love into food and getting people to think beyond mere sustenance for aged care residents to providing food which residents look forward to,” Mr Yates says.

“Some providers are doing an excellent job in providing high quality food options tailored to the specific needs of every resident but others could do much, much better.

“COTA Australia looks forward to active engagement with the MPs and Senators of the new Parliamentary Friendship Group, which provides a multi-partisan forum for discussion on matters relating to the ageing of Australia’s population and the provision of aged care services in Australia.”

He adds that the Government also has a big role to play in improving this area of aged care, and says increasing consumer choice in aged care will help lift the standard of food provided by those aged care providers that do not currently prioritise high quality, nutritious food that residents want to eat.

Chief Executive Officer of ACSA, Pat Sparrow, welcomed the first meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Ageing and Aged Care Group as well as its “forward-looking” discussion on the importance of eating well at any age.

She also acknowledged featured chef Maggie Beer - a noted passionate advocate of the importance of food excellence in aged care - who talked of her work in engaging chefs and cooks in aged care to cook flavoursome food using fresh, healthy ingredients, adding that the event helped to highlight the huge role food plays in the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of older Australians.

“People love to eat well at any age and that need doesn’t change when someone moves into residential care,” Ms Sparrow says.

“Aged and Community Services Australia is pleased to be a part of this engagement with food leaders to give food standards in aged care the prominence they deserve.”

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