The Maggie Beer Foundation has launched an initiative to bring together a broad range of multi-disciplinary food and nutrition professionals to improve the mealtime experience of aged care residents.

The Alliance of the Willing will include experts and professional from across the country such as chefs, cooks, scientists, dietitians, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, medical experts, philanthropists, corporations, peak bodies, governments, and aged care organisations.

The initiative is an outcome of February’s invitation-only national congress on food in aged care featuring experts and stakeholders from around the world and jointly hosted by the Maggie Beer Foundation and Department of Health.

The announcement coincides with the release of congress’ final report, which tables 56 findings and 139 possible actions across nine key themes to address urgent food and nutrition related issues in aged care.

Maggie Beer

It found a variability in the quality and a lack of transparency and accountability in the delivery of food, nutrition and the dining experience in aged care.

Cook, author and mentor Maggie Beer said they would establish working groups to address the findings of the congress.

“The Alliance of the Willing came about because we had from congress this overarching collaborative feel of no one person can do this; that it has to be a collaborative and holistic approach,” Ms Beer told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“The main work of the alliance is to find policy and major changes that remove silos in food nutrition and allied health. There are such silos and we need food and nutrition as a holistic approach and we need to find some way to connect the in-home care with the residential care,” she said.

Ms Beer said she would like to see those involved in the congress to join the alliance.

“We’re also hoping that by invitation the AMA [Australian Medical Association] and some unions or big providers and other peak bodies would also be involved because it all comes down to collaboration,” she said.

“We don’t see the alliance being an advocacy group because we don’t want to work against government. We want the government to look at us and see that we’re doing things that will then hopefully direct them to policy that will work for everyone by listening to everyone’s point of view,” she said.

Ms Beer said she hoped this initiative also influenced aged care homes about what was possible.

“Some things and really simple some things are very complex. But it’s about getting this conversation loud and strong between the groups,” Ms Beer said.

Access National Congress Findings Report.

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