By promoting independence at meal times, it is likely that residents will feel more in control of what they are eating and how much. A resident may not manage all of their meal independently, but even just a portion or one course can help with the staff monitoring at meal times.
There are a number of different aids that can by used to promote independence at meal times and help a resident eat more comfortably.
This is particularly helpful for a resident who may have arthritis or poor dexterity. There are a number of different types of built-up cutlery however the principle is the same, that the handle of the cutlery is fatter and easier to grip than traditional cutlery. Alternatively, if these commercial products are not available, or if you wanted to trial the appropriateness of this approach without the cost, a piece of foam or a household sponge wrapped around the handle and secured with tape can give a similar effect!!
Cutlery where the handle is built-up and weighted is useful in residents who are experiencing tremors or loss of muscle control in their arms. The idea is that the weight helps provide stability and improve control for getting the food onto the cutlery and then to the mouth.
This is helpful for residents that may not have full range of motion in their shoulders or arms and need extra help to successfully feed themselves. Very cleverly, the head of this cutlery can be angled left or right, to account for left and right handedness.
Hand Grips and Holders
These can be used regularly for people who drop their cutlery due to very weak grip. These strap onto the hand and regularly cutlery can be positioned in the palm of the hand, without the hand gripping it at all. They are strapped on around the back of the hand and can be helpful for residents with little or no grip strength.
These prevent food from being pushed off the plate, but also gives the residents something to push the food up against to get it onto the cutlery. These can clip onto the side of he plate, or plates can be purchased with them already built in.
For more advice on aids and equipment, please contact the Independent Living Centre (ILC) http://ilcaustralia.org.au/ in your city on 1300 885 886. They have occupational therapists on hand for advice and can even visit for consultations in your home.