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Care home residents respond well to communal mealtimes

19th May 2006

Sitting together during mealtimes has a positive effect on care home residents, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by the Wageningen University in Holland and reported in the BMJ, found that a family style arrangement at mealtimes helped produce increased physical performance of residents and improved their quality of life.

The convivial nature of the mealtimes, which included real plates, cutlery, and no bibs, was also found to lower the feelings of depression and isolation common among care home residents.

The report, which involved a controlled trial on some 282 residents of Dutch nursing homes, also discovered that communal meals helped maintain the residents' body weights far more effectively than an individual plated service, which residents ate separately from one another.

The six-month study, which focused on residents without dementia, comes on the back of a previous report that highlighted the improved mood of residents with dementia who were involved in sociable meal times.

The report's authors' claim that family style mealtimes require no extra staff or increase in costs or workloads - just motivated staff.