Meals in nursing homes

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Abstract

Undernutrition is present among 33% of nursing home residents in Denmark. Hence, it is relevant to examine the meal situation at nursing homes to single out factors that may increase or reduce the residents' food intake. In the ongoing Danish nursing home debate it is claimed that a new type of nursing home improves the residents' meal situation with a positive effect on nutrition. The aim of this work is to test the general hypothesis that (i) residents appreciate the meal situation in these nursing homes and (ii) nutritional status of the residents is improved in this type of nursing home. This study was carried out in four Danish nursing homes at various locations in Denmark. The methods used are qualitative interviews and observations at four nursing homes in combination with measurement of body mass index (BMI) at two of the four nursing homes. Undernutrition is defined as a BMI below 20. The study could not confirm the general hypothesis, as a consistent improvement in the meal situation was not found in the nursing homes studied. But an indication of improved nutritional status was found in two of the nursing homes where the degree of undernutrition was lower than generally found in Denmark. Furthermore, the study indicated that the staff and the residents conceived the nursing homes differently.

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