Kitchen and Food Services Caring for Māori Residents

Māori culture believes that during contact and as a healthcare worker providing care, there should be a strict separation between touching the body or body fluids and food. It's crucial to remember this when providing meals for Māori residents. These principles reflect correct infection prevention and control practices we should always follow. 

Some examples of how this is applied include the following

Combs and brushes should not be placed on a surface where food is placed 

It is inappropriate to sit on tables or workbenches, particularly surfaces used for food or medication

Microwaves used for heating food will not be used for heating anything that has come into contact with the body, e.g., wheat bags, 

Fridges or freezers used for food or medication storage should not be used for any other purpose

Receptacles used for drinking water should be used solely for this purpose

Tea towels will only be used for drying dishes and will be washed separately from all other soiled linen 

If food is served in a resident's room, remove any bedpans or urinals, as they should not be present at the same time as food

Healthcare workers play a crucial role in infection prevention as part of providing holistic care to residents. When caring for Māori residents, it is important to consider their cultural values and preferences, particularly in relation to food and fluid. One such value is "Manaakitanga," which emphasises nurturing relationships, respecting others, and showing hospitality. By understanding and incorporating Manaakitanga into their practice, healthcare professionals can strengthen their therapeutic relationships and provide culturally appropriate care.

Building Rapport and Partnership

Manaakitanga places great importance on hospitality and building relationships. When Māori residents receive visitors, allowing sufficient time for welcome and refreshments is essential. As a healthcare worker despite time pressures, it is considered impolite to decline offers to socialise. Taking a moment to engage in conversation will greatly assist in developing rapport and fostering an effective therapeutic relationship. 

Understanding Māori Lifestyles and Dietary Preferences

Healthcare professionals should be aware of Māori lifestyles, including dietary practices, as they significantly affect overall health. It is important to become familiar with specific cultural preferences and foods of Māori patients. Dietary changes recommended for an individual often require the involvement and support of the entire whānau (extended family) to be successful, as separate meals may not be practical or culturally acceptable.

Respecting Cultural Preferences in Food Preparation

Certain foods hold special meaning and cultural significance for Māori. It is more practical to discuss ways to prepare them in a healthier way rather than removing them completely from a diet. 

In caring for Māori residents in an aged care environment, healthcare workers have a significant role in incorporating cultural considerations, particularly regarding food and fluid preferences. By embracing the principles of Manaakitanga, healthcare professionals can nurture relationships, respect cultural values, and provide more effective and culturally appropriate care. Understanding Māori lifestyles, acknowledging welcome, and respecting dietary preferences are essential to creating a supportive and inclusive healthcare environment.