Breakfast in Bed – Aged Care

Breakfast in Bed – Aged Care

Breakfast in Bed – Aged Care

Is Breakfast in Bed a Luxury. Majority of people mention their experience of receiving breakfast in bed as an amazing experience, feeling pampered or feeling special. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Anniversaries, A Great Holiday, Special Occasions & Great Surprises……… All of these start with Breakfast in Bed.

Then why not the same for Aged Care residents. Why do we think that breakfast in bed is not the best way to provide services in aged care? Why have the majority of Aged Care Homes decided “Buffet Breakfast” is a better service model.

The following are the top most arguments I hear in response to “Why not breakfast in Bed”:

Ø Breakfast in bed takes away residents dining experience/social engagement
Ø Residents do not get multiple choice/variety of food items when served via a tray service
Ø No Flexible times for eating breakfast when delivered via a trolley service (extended service hours)
Ø Residents feel more independent as they can wonder down to a buffet and help themselves
Ø It is an institutionalized approach when served in their room

Let’s look at each of these arguments individually :

Ø Breakfast in bed takes away residents dining experience/social engagement

Typically, there are at least 6 meal services in any Aged Care Facility. Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner & Supper. Not to mention additional cooking activities and other food-related activities that are part of the lifestyle calendar and which Residents  How is it that some Facility Managers think that serving 1 meal in their room will take away their dining experience and seriously affect their social engagements!

Sitting down with loved ones and sharing a main meal is without a doubt one of life’s small but most enjoyable pleasures, but how many Aged Care Resident’s have actually thought of Breakfast as being the main meal of the day to share with Families and Loved ones (except maybe on Weekends or Holiday’s). Resident’s have had their fair share of busy life’s, working hard and bringing up and caring for there Families, so sharing a meal together was a small window of opportunity to catch their breaths and share quality, laughter and engaging times. However, I am not sure if Breakfast with the family was that meal, unless it was one of those special occasions. Breakfast might be the most nutritionally & healthiest meal of the day, but it definitely isn’t regarded as the most socially engaging meal of the day, it never really has been.

Now, with Residents living in an Aged Care Facility do they really want to wakeup early enough to shower, dress and be seated in the Dining Room ready for Breakfast? Staff having to work like crazy in the morning to assist Residents to be up and on the move. With medication times and other morning activities also happening, time is paramount to a residents day. Putting immense pressure on care staff to ensure Resident’s are showered, dressed and ready for their day prior to breakfast. It’s a fact that in some facilities that Staff simply do not have the time and means to assist all Resident’s to be showered and dressed, leaving for the Resident to make his or her own way to the dining room in their sleepwear and nightgowns in readiness for The Breakfast Service.

Serving breakfast in the Residents Bedroom means Resident’s and Staff are not so rushed in the morning. Residents can enjoy their breakfast without having to worry about taking a shower or being properly dressed. Receiving breakfast in bed is always that feeling of being pampered with a little luxury. Do we not experience the joy of having breakfast delivered to our hotel room whilst on holiday? Don’t we get a little excited about filling out our menu card the night before so that it will be delivered to our room in the morning? Do we feel that we are restricted with breakfast items to choose from? Do we not enjoy that freedom of waking up and not having to rush down to the dining room for breakfast? Do we not enjoy hearing those words GOOD MORNING BREAKFAST HERE so why would not the Residents in your Homes not like to here that each morning? As far as the safety of the food being delivered is concerned, the food safety software will assist you to ensure a safe breakfast is delivered.

Ø Residents do not get multiple choice/variety at breakfast

Serving breakfast in a Residents Room does not mean repetition for a Residents Breakfast Tray. However, the reality is the majority of Residents do choose to have the same breakfast foods each morning, regardless of the many choices on offer at the buffet or on their daily menu. When you look at your own Facility how many varieties of cereals, juices, fruits, yoghurts and even breads are you offering to your Residents on a regular basis. The many choices allows for Resident’s to maintain their regular breakfast foods and routines and to ensure for a happy start to their day. By using a Catering Software System you will be surprised how easy it is to offer your Residents a real variety of breakfast choices over a 7day week.

It’s often said an Aged Care Facility is a Residents home, if that is true then why not allow Residents to be served that small luxury of having breakfast delivered to their Room? Having choice is what is expected and should be upheld!

Ø No Flexible times for breakfast (extended service hours)

 If I was served a tray in my room, I believe I would have the flexible time to enjoy that meal and eat at my own pace. Buffet service although served over a period of time means that I am expected in the Dining Room at a specific time. So where is the flexibility? Also, extended breakfast times have only made catering staff tasks harder because out of their 7.5 hours shift, they end up spending 2 hours (almost 30% of their day) only performing breakfast service.

One important thing to remember is that part of being healthy is also to ensure to eat a well balanced meal and at an appropriate time. If residents are offered breakfast late mornings, how may it effect them. 

We talk about flexibility and variety of choices at mealtime yet I do not see flexible times for activities in the lifestyle calendar. I do not see residents’ have a buffet of lifestyle activities to choose from at the same time. If BINGO is played from 10 to 11 in the activity room then residents better be there in time to enjoy this. I don’t recall any facility to offer additional staff just in case the resident wants to play BINGO at 1 PM.

Ø Residents feel more independent as they can walk to a buffet and help themselves

We can use this word “Independence” if residents are low care and able to still do most of their daily activities with no or minimum support. It’s now well believed that since homecare packages have been made available, by the time Residents require an Aged Care Facility they have become more frail. Hence require more assistance which makes coming to a dining room for Breakfast an even more tiresome task and require Care Staff to assist with not only getting them to the Dining Room but then to serve them and in some cases assisting to feed. It is no different to an “in room service” except without the exhausting effort to getting to the dining room for breakfast. It is not common to see many residents walking unassisted to a Dining Room and helping themselves to a buffet breakfast..

We certainly respect the rights for Residents Independence and wherever possible their Independence should be adhered to but of course with duty of care of health and safety taken into consideration. It should be noted that for many Residents, Independence is lost once they enter an Aged Care Facility except maybe for the right to choose their desired meals from the Digitised Dietary Software System and to Dine either in the Dining Room Or the Comforts of their Bedroom.

Ø It is an institutionalized approach

Does serving one meal a day in the Residents Bedroom make the whole Aged Care Facility Institutionalized, or by not serving Breakfast in the Bedroom keep Residents away from being institutionalized?

In my opinion,                                                                                                                                                                    Telling a Resident that they can’t have a runny poached egg is institutionalized
Deciding what time Residents will do and what activity they’ll do is institutionalized
Calling it A Residents Home yet having a clinical looking Aged Care Facility is institutionalized???
Deciding for Residents on what they should be eating and what not is institutionalized
Reducing the number of RNs and Skilled Staff is institutionalized???
Wanting 5-star meals and services & yet not providing the budget, resources or sufficient staff to provide such a service                      is institutionalized

Many people may or may not agree with this article but I guess I am only trying to portray the true picture that I see in Aged Care. I do not however believe in putting all the eggs in one basket. There are many of Aged Cares Facilities doing an outstanding job and achieving great results but there are also many Aged Care Facilities who have got it so wrong that they don’t even know where to begin to fix the issues. Many Aged Care Facilities are using Catering Software Systems to help their Residents begiven the best Food Services possible.

Having worked in Aged Care Catering over many years, I strongly believe that “Breakfast in Bed” can be a real positive for Residents living in an Aged Care Facility, IF IT’S DONE RIGHT!