‘Troubled conscience related to deficiencies in providing individualised meal schedule in residential care for older people – a participatory action research study’

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Abstract

Food and mealtimes should be adapted to the older person's individual needs and desires, a fact that is often ignored in favour of a functional mealtime organisation. This study was grounded in participatory action research (PAR), and the aim of the study was to illuminate a PAR process to assist care providers in constructively dealing with their troubled conscience generated from perceived shortcomings in providing an individualised meal schedule in residential care for older people. Care providers and their manager participated in twelve PAR sessions. The participants' troubled conscience was eased by reflecting on and sharing their thoughts about their perception of a lack of individualised meal schedule and a lack of opportunities for meaningful interventions. The researchers in PAR became the bridge between the care providers and the management that was needed to improve individualised mealtime schedule. This study pinpoints how difficult it can be to make small changes in a rigid organisation that is run by a management that does not have the hands-on knowledge about the daily care provided by the organisation. This study points to the need of creating communication arenas wherein all personnel involved in care for older people, at all organisational levels, together meet to create a good care for older people. However, the care providers have been provided with tools, uncomplicated to use, to continue to let their voices being heard.

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