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With changing attitudes to catering in the care industry, your kitchen could be a deciding factor for potential residents and their families.

In the past, care home food has had a reputation for being bland, pureed and unappealing. Unfortunately, this reputation hasn’t been entirely unfair – while nutritional intake has always been a priority, not every care home has gone to great lengths to make food look and taste great. In recent years, care homes have come under the spotlight for the food offered to residents, with more impetus being placed on providing meals that don’t simply fulfil nutritional needs but encourage residents to eat well.

A wider variety of food is now making its way onto many care home menus, with operators offering meals that appeal to broader tastes, reflecting the diversity of the residents they support. As you already know, your facility’s menu can be one of the deciding factors for residents or their families when choosing a care home.

Promoting health
It is, however, about more than making residents feel at home in their new environment. In a recent article in the Guardian, Anchor Homes’ Roy Garland stressed the connection between preparing appetising food that encourages residents to eat, and all-round healthier residents, commenting: “If you get the food right, then a lot of the medicine can go out of the window.”

Last year’s Care Catering Hero Gareth O’Hara also revolutionised food at the home where he works; Cardiff’s Sunrise Residential Care Home. A trained commercial chef, and one of the first recipients of the new NVQ level 2 diploma in professional cookery in health and social care catering, he and his team serve tasty, well-presented meals, no matter what the clients’ medical needs: pureed food (for residents suffering from dysphagia or other disorders) are moulded and served to look like ‘normal’ dishes.

Catering to all appetites
Garland’s view is that no matter what the client’s dietary needs – whether they are able to easily eat solid foods or are on soft diets – the food they’re offered should look and taste great, and that offering a choice is essential to keeping clients well-nourished and happy. Offering a choice

Most homes offer a menu with different meals that residents can ‘pre-order’, but a new approach is to allow residents to choose their meals as they would in a restaurant. Options are written onto a board and plates are shown at the table.

It’s a process that no doubt puts the kitchen and its staff through their paces, but ultimately benefits everyone. This approach not only improves appetites but reduces waste and cuts catering costs. What’s more, for prospective clients, this hard work goes to show the level of dedication the home provides to those living there.

At Steelplan Kitchens, our experts have delivered bespoke solutions for care homes for over 30 years, fitting flexible catering kitchens and satellite spaces in residential homes across the UK. To find out more about how our kitchens could benefit your business, call us on 0844 809 9186.

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