Maggie believes that food can and must be a pleasure to the very end of life – from the meals served in aged care homes and hospitals through to the taste of mouth swabs for dying patients who can no longer swallow. She spoke at the recent Palliative Care Conference in Adelaide where she was joined by clinicians, researchers, allied health practitioners, educators, carers and those involved in the latest research and thinking around palliative care.
During her keynote speech Maggie shared not only her own personal experiences, but addressed those who are trying to change the status quo in regards to food in palliative care, including Peter Morgan-Jones, who is currently writing a cookbook specifically for those at the end stages of their lives.
Maggie also made mention of the novel by Kellie Curtain, titled 'What will I wear to your funeral' - a beautiful, life-affirming story of a mother's struggle with cancer and a daughter's ability to accept and make peace with her passing.
Maggie reiterated that palliative care seeks to neither shorten nor prolong life, but to improve the quality of life and manage symptoms so people can enjoy to the full the time they have left.
We need to look to ways to meet the social, emotional and spiritual needs as well as the physical symptoms.
For her own dying days, Maggie talked about wanting to have speakers beneath her pillows so she can listen to music and podcasts, “of all the things I wish I had known about in life”.
Last month, Alzheimer's Australia ACT hosted a business breakfast - 'Gather 'Round the Table' - with Maggie and Ngaire Hobbins as special guests. Maggie and Ngaire appeared in conversation at the breakfast and shared their philosophy and wisdom about the impact of good food on a person’s general wellbeing, state of mind, and brain health.
The breakfast also kick started Dementia Awareness Month in the ACT. By the end of this year there will be more than 5000 people living with dementia in the ACT alone and more than 400 000 people living with the condition Australia-wide.
There are very few people who have not been impacted in some way by dementia – either living with the disease or knowing a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague who does, or who carers for someone living with dementia.
A diagnosis of dementia does not mean that you are alone however, far from it. Alzheimer’s Australia ACT is the peak body in the Canberra region supporting those living with dementia and their families, and they provide support services, a wide variety of social groups, and education within our community.
This was not an average business breakfast – it was space where good local food was celebrated, where inspirational ideas around nutrition and positive ageing were shared and generated, where serendipitous connections were made, and where a deeper understanding of dementia in our community was fostered.
"My takeaway is to live a healthy life with good food and really take time to enjoy the company at that moment. No more rushing meals" - Shikha Colwill, breakfast attendee.
From 20 - 22 August 2017, thirty chefs and cooks from aged care homes across Australia participated in a workshop unlike any other - the 'Creating An Appetite For Life' Education Program.
Guests travelled to the Barossa to partake in the program, which was held at Nuriootpa High School over the course of two days.
As an introduction on day one, each chef or cook discussed what their biggest challenges were, and as a group, tried to find a solution.
Chefs and cooks had the opportunity to network with others in the industry, sample delicious menus that they could replicate back in their workplaces, test out their skills in cooking challenges and hear from a range of experts in the industry. Guest speakers throughout the two days included:
Olivia Farrer - Dietitian, Flinders University
- Ran a workshop 'How to rock your menu review'
Tara Grahame Cochrane - Landscape Architect of healing and therapeutic landscapes and co-creator of Gardens That Care
- Highlighted the benefits of gardens in aged care
Rebecca Sullivan - Granny Skills
- Rebecca hosted an interactive session about her mission to safeguard our ‘granny skills,’ by protecting food heritage, culture, skills, knowledge and tradition, passing down what grannies know best.
Claudia Ait-Touati - CEO Careship Coorong
- Discussed the benefits of care farming for those with dementia
Mel Roberts - Maggie Beer Foundation Chef
- Lively discussions were had around work flow and time management in the kitchen
Peter Morgan-Jones - Executive Chef, HammondCare
- Peter demonstrated just how delicious (and appealing!) texture modified and finger foods can be. Demo included hands-on experience for participants.
James Shepherd - Food Safety Systems
- Discussion around current food safety regulations in aged care kitchens.
Professor Lee – Fay Low, University of Sydney
- Enlightened chefs and cooks how they can be change agents in their aged care workplaces.
Chefs and cooks left the workshop feeling inspired and eager to put their learnings into practice back at their homes.
Watch this space to find out about upcoming workshops in 2018!
We were very proud to welcome 30 CEOs and managers working in aged care homes across the country to our 'Food For Thought' CEO Workshop on 23 August 2017, at Sprout Cooking School in Adelaide.
Following on from the Creating An Appetite For Life Program, dedicated to chefs and cooks, Maggie's focus shifted from those creating the food for change, to those in decision making roles to best streamline ideas into action. The workshop was dedicated to opening a dialogue with CEOs, troubleshooting the issues that may be hampering positive food experiences in aged care homes.
Maggie began the workshop by introducing how the Foundation came to be and then asked the assembled room to identify what they would change about their aged care homes. Not surprisingly, food came out as a hot topic. You can read the responses here
Guests then heard from a variety of speakers including:
Kate Swaffer - Dementia Alliance International
- Spoke about her experience of living with dementia
- Identified that skills get lost more quickly if they are not used
- Promote independence, not dependence
Associate Professor Lee-Fay Low - University of Sydney
- Identified that different leadership styles suit difference situations
- Discussed how food culture is changing in aged care homes
- CEOs need to identify the challenges and implement a change plan
Dr Tim Henwood - Community Wellness and Lifestyle at Southern Cross Care
- You are never too old to begin progressive and weight bearing exercise
- Exercise proven to reduce falls risk, as well as physical and mental symptoms of disease
- Evidence that the amount of protein required increases with age, as well as disability, disease and participation in exercise
Professor Wendy Lacey - UniSA
- Discussed how there is currently no international convention on rights of older persons but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states ‘everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care’
- CEOs need to be aware that food and nutrition will become more tightly regulated, following the current parliamentary review into Accreditation Processes
Jane Mussared - Chief Executive at COTA SA
- In 2016, 17% of the population was aged 65 and older, by 2042, that will have increased to 25%
- The current generation of elderly have greater expectations, they are a more diverse group and are more educated
- CEOs will need to consider these changes to make their aged care homes attractive for potential residents
Peter Morgan-Jones - Executive Chef at HammondCare
- Peter discussed the importance of engaging all senses as we eat, and to do the same when providing food for residents in our care.
CEOs and managers also got their hands dirty during the Mystery Box Challenge (refer to image of Allen Candy - CEO of Life Care, and Maggie!). The aim of the challenge was for guests to experience just how difficult it is to produce a meal for a resident in aged care.
Overall a very rewarding, inspiring and thought-provoking workshop for all who attended.
Knowing that a meal cooked with care is one of the very best ways of nurturing wellbeing, the Maggie Beer Foundation was established to Create An Appetite For Life, regardless of age or health restrictions. And the best way Maggie knows to effect the change she champions is to go to the source of the decision-making process; the CEOs of aged care homes.
In order to effect change in a way that is greater than the sum of its parts, the Maggie Beer Foundation is once again offering the proven success of a specialised workshop for CEOs and managers, Food For Thought, Wednesday 23 August in Adelaide.
Following on from the Creating An Appetite for Life Education Program, dedicated to cooks and chefs, Maggie’s focus will shift from those creating the food for change, to those in decision making roles to best stream line ideas into action. Food For Thought is a workshop dedicated to opening a dialogue with CEO’s, troubleshooting the issues that may be hampering full flavoured, highly nutritious food being enjoyed in aged care homes across Australia.
Food For Thought will offer CEOs the chance to network with others in management roles, hear from food-focused aged care providers and guest speakers, take part in lively discussions and find out more about the work Maggie Beer Foundation is doing and how best it may aid the decision-making in aged care homes Australia-wide. CEOs and managers who attend will also try their hand in the kitchen with Maggie for the infamous Maggie Beer Foundation Mystery Box Challenge!
As Maggie explains, “For those in aged care not fortunate enough to have leadership that understands the importance, and the difference, that good food and the way it is delivered can make, I believe by working closely with those who wish to embrace the principals of the joy that food can bring, we can create this change with a movement that I hope will encourage all to follow.”
To take part in Food For Thought and keep this important conversation going, please book your spot sooner, rather than later, as numbers are limited to only 40.
Sprout Cooking School, 89 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton, South Australia 5033
Wednesday 23 August, 2017
8:15am – 4:30pm
$1,150.59 (includes GST and all fees)