Background: Choice of food is an imperative aspect of quality of life for residents in Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), where overall choice and control is diminished upon entering a home to receive care. The purpose of this study was to examine the current strategies of menu planning in a range of RACHs in Australia, and whether this facilitated appropriate levels of choice for residents receiving texture modified and general diets. Methods: The study comprised a National Menu Survey using a new survey instrument collecting general information about the RACH and foodservice system, menu information and staffing information (n
= 247); a national menu analysis (n
= 161) and an observational case study of 36 meal environments. Results: Choice was low for the entire sample, but particularly for those receiving pureed texture modified diets. Evidence of menu planning to facilitate the inclusion of choice and alternatives was limited. Discussion: Regulation and monitoring of the Australian Aged Care Accreditation Standards needs to be strengthened to mandate improvement of the choice and variety offered to residents, particularly those on pureed texture modified diets. Further research on how menu choice and a lack of variety in meals affects the quality of life residents is needed in this context, but current evidence suggests the effect would be detrimental and undermine resident autonomy and nutritional status.
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