Aged care home puts the simple sausage back on the menu

The Lyndoch Living nursing home in Warrnambool, Victoria, has created a special sausage for its residents with swallowing difficulties – and it does contain meat.

Their high care dementia unit hosts a weekly barbeque for residents, but until recently many of them missed out.

People with dementia often have trouble swallowing, which sees their diet restricted to soft-textured food.

“We had a guy that wouldn’t eat his meal because everyone else was eating a sausage and he wasn’t,” Lyndoch Living hotel services manager Simon Corbett said. “The first time we offered him the sausage, he kept coming back for more.”

Back on the menu

The sausage was the brainchild of Mr Corbett, who says the challenge was finding a binding agent that is soft enough for residents to eat, but firm enough to maintain the shape – currently they use egg whites.

Mr Corbett said it’s not just the quality of the food that improves residents’ quality of life – it’s the overall experience of sharing a meal.

Residents eat from custom-made crockery designed to reduce spills and encourage them to eat independently, with meals served up on demand rather than all at once so they can receive their meal while it’s fresh and hot.

Now Mr Corbett has teamed up with the CSIRO and local meat company Midfield Meats to improve the sausage and make it more widely available.

“Texture-modified foods are not a new thing,” he said, “but until now this kind of food has been unrecognisable, pretty much mush. For dementia patients especially, if the food you put in front of them doesn’t look like food, they won’t eat it.”

With malnutrition a big problem in aged care, a sausage is the perfect food to add protein or vitamins to boost the health of residents.

In fact, some of Lyndoch’s residents are even putting on weight, a fact almost unheard of in aged care residents with dementia.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

The Donaldson Sisters present important topics and perspectives on the table for open discussion – topics that don’t often get raised in the mainstream media and voices and perspectives less frequently heard. Subscribe to their newsletter here.