SINGAPORE: Chicken masala, seafood otak and five-spice chicken may not be typical food options for those with swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia. But a new collaboration between Changi General Hospital (CGH) and food company Health Food Matters, announced on Monday (Sep 19), has made it possible for dysphagia patients as well as elderly patients who prefer softer meals to enjoy these dishes outside of the hospital - in the form of ready-to-eat meals.
Finely minced chicken masala, which dysphagia patients, as well as the elderly, can eat. (Photo: Vimita Mohandas)
The hospital will provide formulas and recipes for its meals to Health Food Matters, which will in turn produce, market and distribute the meals in Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. The meals are available in three textures - finely minced, coarsely minced or blended.
Fourteen local recipes have been created by CGH- including sweet and sour fish, and steamed fish with coriander sauce - with the aim of appealing to the local palate, while meeting nutritional needs. The hospital came up with the recipes after gathering feedback from patients on their preferences.
Ms Magdalin Cheong, head of dietetic consultation at Changi General Hospital, said: "Fish and chicken are ... really common among most people and there's no concern for ethnic or religious limitations. And for the older population, they like strong tasting food and spicy food. So some of the recipes we have used include spices, chilli and strong things like ginseng, so it will enhance the taste of the food."
Local dishes under the collaboration include braised ginger chicken. (Photo: Vimita Mohandas)
Another dish on the menu - chestnut chicken patty. (Photo: Vimita Mohandas)
Said Ms Grace Gan, co-founder of Health Food Matters: "I realise the caregivers don't really know what to cook because when you tell them that you need every piece of meat or vegetable on the plate (to be) between 0.1 cm and 0.5 cm, it's very difficult to comply with.
"So at home, most of the time when you talk about soft food, caregivers just end up preparing steamed fish, steamed chicken or plain porridge. So in terms of variety and the quality of life, we notice that patients tend to suffer quite a bit because of that."
She added that the aim of the collaboration with CGH is to help these patients rediscover the joy of eating, as many of those with swallowing difficulties often find current food options rather bland.
Dysphagia affects an estimated 68 per cent of elderly nursing home residents, 30 per cent of seniors admitted to hospitals and 64 per cent of stroke patients.
The ready-to-eat meals can be purchased from next January.