Sep 30, 2021

“Disgusting” aged care meal sparks social media outrage

“Disgusting” aged care meal sparks social media outrage

Yvonne Murfet posted a photo on social media of her mother’s unappetising meal. 

The image showed one scoop of unidentifiable yellow mash and a cut-up sausage covered with a watery red sauce. 

Murfet’s mother is a resident of Fairway Rise aged care home, which is owned by not-for-profit aged care provider Southern Cross Care Tasmania.

Murfet wrote, “The meal was cold and inedible and a choking hazard and was returned to the kitchen with no alternative meal forthcoming.”

badbadmeal
Credit: Facebook

“I don’t expect gourmet meals but I do expect my mother to be treated with dignity, respect and care along with being provided with nutritious, edible meals.” 

Murfet said she is “forever grateful” to the care staff who look after her mother, but she felt compelled to speak up about “poor conditions or food decisions [made] by management.”

Murfet’s post was picked up by The Mercury and sparked a storm on social media. 

“Disgusting,” one angry commenter wrote.

“Disgraceful,” said another.

“OMG. They must be so hungry,” observed one.

“Not much nutritional value in that! Where are the greens? If they are going to serve small meals, at least give them something of better quality which is heated,” wrote one commenter.

Some noted the meals they see in aged care are better quality.

“l have worked in an aged care facility in Queensland. This would not make it out of the servery,” wrote one.

Murfet is encouraging others concerned about problems in aged care to speak up.

“Our elderly deserve better,” she wrote.

Food quality is one of several issues Murfet has taken up with Southern Cross Care Tasmania management in recent months.

Murfet plans to lodge an official complaint with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Fairway Rise was assessed by the regulator in March 2021 and passed all 44 aged care quality standards.

A spokesperson for SCC Tasmania told HelloCare the company provides “excellent and appropriate” meals for all residents at Fairway Rise.

“Showing one part of one meal is not an accurate depiction of the meals we serve,” they said.

“Meals are endorsed by dieticians and cooked by chefs, and residents are given an opportunity to have their say.”

The spokesperson continued, “Lunch is the main meal of the day and includes two hot options, two cold options and two options for dessert. The evening meal is smaller, and includes a soup entrée, hot and cold option main courses and two dessert options. Lunch and dinner are served with vegetables.”

They added, “Breakfast has hot and cold options. Sandwiches and savoury muffins are served for morning and afternoon tea and supper. Fresh fruit and other snacks are available at all times.”

The provider will “always investigate” complaints made by residents or families, they said.

You can also raise awareness in your workplace today.

October 4-8 is Malnutrition Week.

The Malnutrition Week ANZ toolkit are free, downloadable resources, flyers and social media tiles for healthcare professionals to help you raise awareness of malnutrition in your work setting. To access, click here.

For easy meal ideas for older Australians, click here to download a free recipe eBook, featuring over 20 meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, nutritious snack ideas, plus a shopping list. 

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  1. Meals are often the highlight of their days. They have a world that’s quite small and at present little to look forward to. It doesn’t take much more time, effort or money to prepare nourishing appetising food. Seeing that plate of food was heart breaking.

    1. It should not be the only option open to seniors in need of care really when aging in place or on small real homes designed for seniors to be like a real hone is much more cost effective and feels more like a home.
      Soon there will a change and seniors who are in their late 50s upwards will mot tolerate this and even if the government does not help create alternatives like Denmark (30 years experience says it all) where seniors homes are located within the person’s community.
      The percentage of people who really need physical care and support is about 4-6% of the seniors population so aging in place is already happening for the majority of seniors they could have a much improved lifestyle if the governments and social care culture was directed to do this. The public will and the large number of seniors up and coming should be enough to push this to fruition.
      Be the change you wish to see.

  2. For every photo of a poorly presented meal there are another 100,000 perfectly good meals but sadly no one wants to hear about that.

    1. Very true, Anton. However, good food should not require any publicity, because it should be expected. Standards that fall below that need to be called out.

    2. Absolutely true Anton. And while I totally agree with you, sadly I disagree with Jakob Neeland about good food should not require publicity.
      Most complaints about food come from a deeply individual place whit-in us loaded with a side dish of emotions that food and food memories provoke.
      There is not nothing mass produced about this with built in quality standards that require no further commentary, like a well made shirt or a car.

      Food, like it or not, remains a very personalised and individual issue for everyone one of us separated by culture, sex, religion and hair colour. We need to see the good too.

      1. I also agree with Jakob but the picture probably only tells part of the story..we don’t know. Does that particular resident not like greens or pumpkin etc etc. Obviously this wasn’t the main meal of the day and was this chosen by the resident. Clearly it wasn’t presented nicely but again we don’t know if that particular meal was tidier when it left the kitchen..was it misbalanced in transit?
        It’s just so easy to criticize.

  3. It is too bad that the facility did not chose emotions share the food budget that the facility needs to work around to stretch the food budget.
    I am from Canada but I can tell you fresh fruit and savoury muffins would never be seen or heard of in the facility my mother and older sister were in.
    The meal budget was 1.20-1.90 per meal, the meals were on a three week rotation and often the menu included a note that disliked items were not removed so they were on the tray. Another thing that speaks volumes to me about the culture on LTC facility that I know best was the fact that on each menu on her birthday my sister’ menu would say Happy Birthday but none of the staff acknowledged anyone’s birthday there – the menu was all there was.

  4. Unfortunately this is what happens when you mix poor governance with neo-liberal policies. Aged Care is a hell hole. Our dog eats better than that.

  5. Please, Don’t judge all aged care by one dismal providers mismanagement.
    Too much negative feedback to aged care pushes a lot of people out of the industry.
    Start selling the good news not the bad!

  6. Hi,
    I was a Facility Manager at Southern Cross Care for several years. Whilst conditions prior to current CEO and Senior Managers were not the best, since the change in March 2019 the quality of care spiralled very quickly downwards. Anyone trying to point out the problems is being managed out and the board has closed doors. Nurses who try to advocate for the residents are being reported to AHPRA for problems and issues that are outside their control. I personally made many attempts to brief Steven Shirley, board member Southern Cross Care Tasmania Inc., however they were not interested.

  7. The topic of food in aged care needs to be looked at! I was working as a PCA, in the dementia wing this one lunch time, I was meal assisting a gentleman. His meal was vitamized, so it was a blob of orange (carrots), a blob of green (peas), mashed potato, and this off white colour (chicken). His daughter came in for a visit and asked me what her father was eating. I told her the vegetables, and when I told her about the chicken, she said, ” My father HATES chicken, he has never eaten chicken! Why has he been given chicken to eat, when we have put it on his meal plan, NO CHICKEN!” The kitchen gave some useless excuse. When ever he refused a meal, it was just documented, ‘Refused meal’.

  8. Can we please get a side by side comparison of the meals being served in our prisons? If I am not mistaken, those being ‘punished’ are enjoying a very high quality (tax payer funded) cuisine, .. while the innocent folk who built this country for us, and are in serious need of nutrition, seem to be getting the rough end of the serving spoon.. ?

  9. I was a volunteer in a not-for-profit church-run home where my mother was a bed-bound resident. The evening meal, similar to that described here would be common-place, eg: a party-pie with gravy, and cold by the time it was served. In fairness, the midday meal was more substantial both in quality and quantity, but even so; unappetising. And the food wastage due only part-eaten meals was considerable.
    What’s the solution? I have experienced ‘institutional food’ – UK school dinners, the military, presumably prisons too. There is an unappetising sameness to them all.

  10. They need to run their kitchens like a hospital. A Dietician should be on for all main meals and they need staff across a band of slow moving trays with each person designated to place their cups and plates, cutlery tea and coffee, dessert person etc. And deliver the meals by kitchen staff and not AINs. The whole industry is a mess. The design of their facilities is a mess. I will say no more before I start to steam!!

  11. Sadly on visiting my late sister-in-law on her birthday it was sad to see her lunch on the table, cold and nowhere near where she could reach the meal! A staff member came in and I made mention of the situation. She said she would take it back to the kitchen and reheat it! She also said that possibly she had not wanted her lunch! I asked my sister-in-law if perhaps she may like a sandwich and a little sweet, to which she replied, yes! The nurse came back with said food and my sister-in-law had three of the sandwiches and the sweet!
    At Guilford Young Grove I had nothing but respect for the staff but always felt that they were in short supply and run of their feet. They gave my sister-in-law the utmost care, sometimes under difficult circumstances but sadly there is possibly not the time to ‘spoon feed’ patients!

  12. While we allow private companies and individuals to make money (often lots of money) by providing government subsidised care to the elderly they will normally try to maximise profits and this is done by spending as little as possible on the residents. Sandwiches made at 7am from yesterdays bread and put in the fridge until served for tea at 5pm. Evening meal 3 chicken nuggets and 6 chips. Residents assisting other residents with meals as insufficient staff. Staff expected to each assist 5 or 6 residents with their meals.
    The best care I have seen has been in small rural towns where the Aged Care facility is attached to the local hospital and not run by some faceless organisation, good food, good care and in their own community.

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