According to a study The Swallowing Research Laboratory at The University of Hong Kong conducted in 2015, an estimated 60% of elders residing in elderly homes in Hong Kong were diagnosed with swallowing difficulty (Dysphagia). Elders with swallowing problems have limited meal choices, i.e., blended puree or porridge that often leads reduced appetite, a higher risk of malnutrition and possible aspirated pneumonia. Elders may also experience lower self-esteem and overall lower quality of life.
Japan pioneered the optimized texture modified softmeal two decades ago using softmeal enzyme gellant in order to mitigate chances of choking. Ms Queenie Man, Founder and CEO of The Project Futurus created “Captain Softmeal” in 2018 to help raise awareness and promote the concept of “dining with dignity”. “Captain Softmeal” has since localized over 100 local recipes, hosted 90+ caregiver classes, assisted 170+ elderly care institutions and trained over 500 professionals on localizing the Japanese softmeal technique. “Captain Softmeal” was also the winner of The 7th Eldercare Innovation Awards “Innovation of the Year – Health Program” in 2019.
The effort helped to contribute to an increasing awareness on softmeal in the elderly-care industry and the general public. The collective success of such social innovation yielded a groundbreaking public policy announcement – the HKSAR Government announced in Budget 2020/21 to allocate an additional HK$75 million to elderly service units for providing “softmeal” to elderly with swallowing difficulties. It was the first time the term “softmeal” was officially adopted and recognized in Hong Kong’s mainstream healthcare system since the product was introduced in Hong Kong in 2015.
As a former creative consultant and brand veteran, Queenie will share her belief in softmeal as a means to improve elders’ quality of life in Hong Kong and her advocacy on the concept of “Dining Together” (同桌同餐) as a crucial component for Ageing with Dignity.
About The Project Futurus: The Project Futurus is a social enterprise and collaboration platform that strives to foster an age-positive environment and advocates the future of aging. “Captain Softmeal” is one of The Project Futurus’ key development initiatives that promotes dignity dining among elders with swallowing difficulties. For more information, please visit www.theprojectfuturus.com