Improving the atmosphere at mealtimes in nursing homes helps lower the risk of a decline in body weight among residents, a new study has suggested.
Conducted by researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the study demonstrated that a poor ambience during mealtimes, lack of help with eating and interruption of meals can cause weight loss, which often leads to other health problems.
It was found that when food was served in a family style, the quality of life of residents improved, as it offers them a sense of security, a chance to socialise with other residents and adds structure to the day.
The researchers analysed the effect of different mealtime ambiences over six months on nursing homes provided with similar food.
Each nursing home that participated had both a control ward and an intervention ward, in which the impact of introducing tablecloths and flower arrangements, ensuring no interruption during the meal and having staff sit and chat with the residents, was measured.
It was concluded that family style mealtimes can have considerable benefits for nursing home residents, in both enhancing their quality of life and stabilising their body weight.