Food and Nutrition

Home-style, freshly prepared nutritious food is an important part of daily life for residents in our homes

<p>Our cook fresh philosophy</p>

Our cook fresh philosophy

At Estia Health, our purpose is to ‘enrich and celebrate life together’ which is brought to life through our family code ‘a family where everyone belongs’. We apply this to all aspects of life in our homes, with a strong emphasis being on, family. Importantly, we want the meals our residents consume to be wholesome, healthy meals, that remind them of what they typically ate at home. We are very proud of the food we provide, source and serve within our homes.

What sets us apart

There are several parts to this question and each are as important as the other. They include:

• True cook fresh philosophy
• Our no reheating policy

Let’s look at each of those in more detail:

1. True cook fresh philosophy

This means our meals are prepared fresh in each home’s kitchen, our meals are not brought in premade. Each dish is prepared specifically for each meal service because we have a strict ‘no cook chill policy’ meaning no reheating.


2. Why we have a no reheating policy

Our policy is grounded in nutritional evidence-based research. When food is cooked, stored for 24 hours at 3°c and then reheated (cook-chill process), 30% of the original food’s vitamin content can be lost.

Using a cook-chill food process has been identified as a significant cause of the reduction in vitamins B, C and folate. Importantly, when older people do not have enough vitamin C and folate in their diets, it can impact their bodies’ ability to heal their wounds.

Since the cook fresh philosophy was implemented across our network of homes, the use of wound supplements (Arginard) has decreased by 9.7%. The usage of this product across the sector, anecdotally, according to suppliers, has seen an increase in the same period.

This is also a key reason why we don’t allow the use of preprepared, chilled or frozen moulded food in our homes (modified texture foods set into moulds).

Caring for over 8,000 residents a year, we cater for a diverse range of backgrounds and preferences. This is reflected in each home’s community of residents, including their food.

We regularly seek feedback, asking residents to give us their view on new additions to the menu, sample new produce from suppliers and share the events and milestones they want to celebrate in the year. Whether it’s Melbourne Cup, Chinese New Year, Diwali and many more. Our hospitality teams come from a breadth of backgrounds, some from Michelin-starred restaurants, other as pastry chefs; some are new to aged care and others with years of experience. But all bring a passion for serving flavourful, nutritious home-style cooking they know residents will love.

Thoughtfully sourced and freshly prepared

Thoughtfully sourced and freshly prepared

We source quality produce from Australia as we believe it delivers a better result and our policy is that 100% of fruit, vegetables, red meat and chicken that we serve is Australian grown. The fish we serve is sourced from clean, open waters and sustainably caught with 80% from the waters off the south island off New Zealand. The remainder comes from Norway (salmon) and the Pacific. We regularly work with our suppliers to better understand their produce and prepare and cook it to serve the best meal possible for our residents.

This includes receiving regular training and education with partners like Meat & Livestock Australia to understand the best cuts of meat to use and how to cook them to get the best flavour and texture, in addition to the best nutritional benefit for residents.

All main meals are freshly prepared and served daily. The only exception is our slow roasts. We slow roast our meats, over 12 hours, which results in tender, succulent and very flavoursome meat, which everyone can enjoy. This includes residents that may be on texture-modified diets due to conditions impacting their ability to swallow. Aussie lamb is a particular favourite for our residents, with regular requests for it on the menu.

Choice and variety

Choice and variety

Every person has memories of a favourite meal they’ve eaten or their own approach when it comes to cooking. Our chefs and catering teams understand this, which is why when you first move into one of our homes, they will spend time with you to understand your likes, dislikes and while in the home, our team will regularly request feedback on the menu. 

We serve three main meals a day in our homes; breakfast, lunch, dinner and three lighter options including morning tea, afternoon tea and supper. Residents can also enjoy a range of snacks between our regular meal services.

In addition, the food and lifestyle teams work together to deliver special experiences for residents. This can typically include high teas, canape parties and happy hours as well as special events to celebrate important milestones in the year, with themed activities and food choices.

View a sample menu 

Celebrating special moments together

Celebrating special moments together

We care for people at the most important time of their lives and are privileged to be a part of some very special milestones, including big birthdays, anniversaries and family celebrations. Our teams love to create special experiences with food and experiences that residents and their families can enjoy.

Each home will have a varied calendar activity that residents have selected and want to enjoy. When visiting one of our homes, ask the team to show you the calendar of activities for the week and hear about some of the upcoming events they’re planning.

We also encourage residents to get involved in growing and preparing food, as we find for many it brings a feeling of belonging and inclusion. Many of our homes have active gardening and cooking clubs and we find this has a real and positive impact on residents’ wellbeing.

Read about some of our resident food experiences in our news.

Making every bite count

Making every bite count

As people get older with increased health issues, good quality, nutrient-dense food plays a vital role in their wellbeing. When you first arrive in our home, we assess your care needs and food forms a big part of this. With complex health conditions, some residents may be living with conditions that require their diets to be modified. This may include an increase in healthy fats to support weight gain, or a reduction in salt or sugar for conditions like heart disease or diabetes. For others living with conditions like Parkinson’s, they may require texture-modified diets in line with the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework.

Our menus and resident care plans are assessed by dietitians and our catering teams have ongoing training and education to expand their knowledge and skills. This includes how to build nutrient-rich meals using natural fortification, with good healthy fats and increased protein, to maintain or increase muscle mass and strength to help reduce the risk of falls and other conditions. This is rather than adding supplements and ensures meals are packed full of natural flavour and nutrients.

Experienced, passionate people

Experienced, passionate people

All of our homes have chefs and catering teams, with a passion for preparing and cooking fresh, nutritious food for our residents that they know will play a key role in their wellbeing.

Our teams bring a breadth of experience to the role and receive regular training and education to make sure they’re always looking at opportunities to improve residents’ food and dining experience.

Our chefs are supported by Estia Health’s national hospitality team, who set national food standards and mentor and support the home teams to deliver to these. Chefs also receive regular training and education from partner organisations, with regular masterclasses attended by dietitians, nutritionists and food providers – they provide education on technical cooking skills and information on nutrition. This ensure our chefs feel confident with the food they are cooking to get the best nutritional benefit, flavour and texture while providing increased variety and choice.

Hear from members of our hospitality/catering team




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Chef Chris Bendigo-green-card_144x144-WEB.jpg



Thank you to our residents and employees that feature on our website