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Po Leung Kuk collaborates with the University of Hong Kong on dysphagia research and introduced the Engay Food recipes under international standards

(18 November 2019, Hong Kong) Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty) is commonly found amongst the elderly facing ageing or illnesses and limits their daily diets to pureed food. The Po Leung Kuk Elderly Services has taken the lead to carry out the Engay Foods Project in its 14 Homes for the Elderly to reshape the unappetizing porridge or puree into intriguing gourmet. A 3-year dysphagia research collaborating with the University of Hong Kong was also carried out this year to explore how Engay Foods can improve the health conditions and the quality of life of dysphagia patients. In order to promote the Engay Food meals, Po Leung Kuk has launched the recipes and online channel to bring the new diet into the community, enabling caregivers to cook those dishes at home.


Among the 14 Po Leung Kuk Homes for the Elderly, nearly 30% of the senior residents are suffering from different levels of dysphagia and are required to consume porridge or puree for their diets. The unappealing presentation of the pureed food leads to poor appetite and lowers nutrition intake in the long-term. In view of this, Po Leung Kuk has started to make Engay Food meals at its Homes for the Elderly since 2014. With the use of professional equipment and food thickener, the pureed food maintains its flavor and creates shape that mimic its original form, resulting in menus with exquisite taste, texture, nutrition values and inviting appearance for the frail elderly.


This year, Po Leung Kuk works with the Swallowing Research Laboratory of the University of Hong Kong to conduct a 3-year safe swallowing research project and introduced the “International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative”, which divided food consistency into 8 levels (Please refer to the appendix for details), aiming to assist speech therapists in formulating diet plans for dysphagia patients, raise public awareness towards dysphagia and increase understanding of relevant safety measures on eating and drinking.  


The research team has also observed and studied the health condition and the quality of life of the elderly with dysphagia after consuming Engay Food meals, for instance, weight gain, mental status, frequency of hospital admission, etc. The person-in-charge of the research project, Dr Karen CHAN, Associate Professor of Division of Speech & Hearing Sciences and Director of Swallowing Research Laboratory, The University of Hong Kong, revealed that 7 dysphagia elderly were selected as the pilot case studies in phase one and analyzed their health conditions after 2-month Engay Food diets. The results showed that all of them can finish off the meal and their sentiment improved; 90% of the elderly maintained or gained weight.


Ms Irene LEE, Member of the research team and Senior Speech Therapist of Po Leung Kuk, has cited the case of one of the research participants, Granny YUNG Ying. The 93-year-old Granny YUNG, who has resided in the Comfort Court for the Senior since last August, suffered from various diseases such as hypertension, dementia, cataracts, and was assessed with moderate dysphagia. After eating 8 weeks of Engay Foods (15 meals in total), Granny YUNG was able to finish off the meal every time. Her weight has been increased from 36.1kg to 40.2kg, with significant improvement in her emotion and quality of life. Dr CHAN stated that they target to recruit 120 elderly with dysphagia under Po Leung Kuk Homes for the Elderly to participate in this 3-year research project.


Po Leung Kuk wishes to bring the  Engay Food meals and the cooking methods into the community and launched the recipes and online channel which feature the making of 45 Engay Food dishes this month, enabling caregivers of dysphagia patients to cook them at home. Mrs Sally CHOY, Principal Social Services Secretary (Elderly and Rehabilitation Services) of Po Leung Kuk, expected to provide the full range of  Engay Food meals in 26 Po Leung Kuk Homes for the Elderly and Disabilities next year, and benefit people with dysphagia of all ages.


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