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Care Catering Award: Care UK Food and Hotel Services

9th Apr 2024 - 11:05

Care UK’s Food and Hotel Services team believes that a ‘whole home approach’ to knowledge and education is the best way to provide excellent nutrition, flavour and choice for all.

Across Care UK’s 150+ care homes, 20.5% of residents are living with dysphagia and have trouble swallowing food. Care UK believes these residents should be provided with meals that are just as delicious and nutritious as those served to residents who eat a normal diet.

An initiative was spearheaded by Samuel Mort, hotel services manager for the Midlands and East, to develop innovative IDDSI forums for Care UK’s leadership teams, from governance professionals to home managers and deputy managers.

The forums provided management teams with the opportunity to learn about IDDSI food through hands-on workshops, where they have the chance to try modifying, piping and tasting texture modified food for themselves to get a better understanding of what it means to prepare this food and to live with dysphagia.

Speaking about the IDDSI workshops, Mort said: “The whole team now understands why our approach is the way it is, and why it’s all about fresh food and choice no matter what diet you’re on.”

Instead of looking at a menu and considering how dishes can be modified, chefs are trained to create menus from a texture modified perspective and work backwards from there. In addition, the provider has also rolled out a new approach to fortifying food that has led to improvements in residents health.

Historically, care providers including Care UK leaned heavily on fats to fortify foods, but this can negatively affect residents’ blood pressure and other health outcomes. Therefore the team has shifted in their approach by pushing for protein-dense diets to help residents maintain weight in a healthier manner, as well as contributing to improved wound healing.

Not only are Care UK’s catering teams trained to provide choice for residents living with dysphagia, but they also adapt meals, drinks and snacks for residents living with other health conditions, such as diabetes. This has created an inclusive dining experience where no resident is left out because of a condition they live with.

Over the last year, Care UK chefs made a point of involving the families of residents as much as possible in the dining experience. As well as working closely with relatives to understand what foods and drinks residents like and dislike, chefs have created welcoming spaces where residents’ families can enjoy a comfortable atmosphere with their loved ones.

In 2023, Care UK revamped its Chef of the Year competition to be bigger and better than ever. More chefs were celebrated during the competition, with expanded divisional heats involving 24 chefs from across the UK. Six were chosen as finalists to compete in a cook-off.

The winner Stuart Pelham, head chef at Llys Cyncoed care home, said taking part was a great experience and being selected for the regional heats alone ‘put a massive spring in his step’.

PSC Alliance