Making the Most of Mealtimes

Watch the video clip above to learn more about the Making the Most of Mealtimes (M3) research study!

Making the Most of Mealtimes (M3)

A research team led by Heather Keller, PhD, RD, FDC (Schlegel Research Chair in Nutrition & Aging, University of Waterloo) has been exploring what residents living in long-term care eat and what factors promote better nutrient intake. The study took place from 2014 – 2016. Information was gathered from over 600 residents, across 32 homes in 4 provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario), and the key findings are in!

The research shows that:

  • Daily food and fluid intake was low for many residents in the M3 study.
  • The 10 nutrients most likely to fall below recommendations were vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
  • Residents who ate fewer calories and protein were more likely to be female, at risk of malnutrition, of older age, consumed pureed foods, had a number of eating challenges during mealtimes (e.g., trouble holding food in the mouth, little or no interest in eating), and required some but not total support for eating.
  • Residents who ate more calories and protein were more likely to live in a memory care neighbourhood, need total eating assistance, and received person-centered care at mealtimes (e.g., their preferences, needs and values were respected).
  • Residents who had better protein intake were more likely to live in homes with more dedicated dietitian time.

What’s Next for Mealtimes in Long-Term Care?

The findings from the M3 study highlight opportunity areas to improve food intake and mealtimes in long-term care:

  • Improving the nutrient content of food, especially pureed foods,
  • Helping residents to eat independently and overcome eating challenges, and
  • Training team members on person-centered care practices during mealtimes.

Research is already underway to address some of the M3 key findings:

  • Nutrition in Disguise: Exploring ways to increase the nutrient density of foods served in long-term care by adding or substituting ingredients and putting key menu planning strategies into place.
  • CHOICE+ Training Program: An educational program to promote person-centred dining practices in long-term care has been developed and is being tested.

Interested in Improving Mealtimes?

Please see below for resources to help make the most of mealtimes in long-term care: