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Healthy diet vital for elderly people

28th December 2005

Older people need a consistent supply of well balanced and nutritious meals, emphasising the importance of high standards within care homes.

A national minimum standard should be introduced to ensure that all care providers across the UK are reaching acceptable targets and giving elderly people access to good food, according to Care and Counsel.

The organisation believes that implementing an overall standard is vital and that it would make more providers more "accountable".

"Good nutrition is essential for older people. A varied diet rich in vitamins and fresh fruit and vegetables will help an older person stay healthy and strong, and fight off infections and illnesses," explained Stephen Burke, chief executive of Counsel and Care.

"Meals are not just about refuelling, but can really improve someone's quality of life."

He explained that quality of life was linked to quality of interaction and therefore to social occasions such as eating with other people and that big budgets were not needed to provide proper and healthy meals, urging cooks to use more fresh produce.

"What is needed is a national campaign similar to Jamie Oliver's drive for school dinners – raising the profile and importance of meals in care homes, and offering practical suggestions for cooking, preparation and recipes," Mr Burke added.