Our resident Technical and QA Manager Rob Henry FIFST ACIEH, was recently invited by James Clear, Hotel Services Manager (South) and Culinary Lead at Care UK, to spend two days with him and his team for their training days at the new Heathlands House care home just before it opened to residents, where he would learn how to cater for dysphagia. It’s safe to say Rob eagerly accepted the invitation and gained so much from the experience!
e-foods, part of the e-f group, currently support Care UK, with the fresh food provision across all their homes and as part of the contract, Care UK also use the industry leading menu management platform ‘CaterCloud’ to support their Chef’s in delivering nutritionally balanced and compliant menus whilst controlling budgets and CPRD (cost per resident per day).
The aim of the visit was for Care UK to show and share with Rob their training methods and procedures to enable us to understand them better, improving our bespoke offering to them and building on our relationship.
One of the sessions was a hands-on tactical training session where Rob created dishes at all stages of the IDDSI FRAMEWORK, which outlines various consistencies of food for residents with dysphagia. Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties, which can range from being unable to swallow certain foods or liquids, to being unable to swallow at all. Catering to residents with this condition can be challenging and a safety concern, so James and his team ensure they follow all IDDSI guidelines, including checklists, for the residents that require texture modified food and drinks, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for each resident.
The main goal is to create meals that cater to individual needs whilst ensuring that they are visually appealing and resemble recognisable food items, so residents living with dysphagia maintain their dignity whilst enjoying their meals. Rather than use food moulds, Care UK Chefs are asked to be creative by using piping bags and various nozzles to achieve texture modified food that resembles the dishes other residents are served.
Care UK use a Thermomix to help them create the textures required without losing key vitamins and minerals/colour. The various nozzles give the impression that there is texture and depth and not just a flat, bland, colourless dish where all items look the same, as we all eat with our eyes, so it is extremely important to make all food visually stimulating.
It is important to note that Care UK’s policy is not to provide meals that the chef wants to create for residents with dysphagia, but that they are served the same meal as all other residents with slight modifications based on their IDDSI level.
Rob got the chance to fully integrate with the training and was soon blitzing and blending away to achieve the correct consistency and piping decorative plates of food. “It wasn’t as easy as James made it look” Rob remarked.
All Care UK homes also have WaterADE hydration stations which dispense low-calorie, sugar-free fruit drinks, fortified with extra vitamins (C and ADE hence the name), to ensure residents are staying hydrated whilst increasing their intake of healthy vitamins throughout the day. Rob got to see first-hand how the staff use every opportunity to ensure residents are getting all the hydration and nutrition they need to remain healthy.
‘All food regardless of texture modification has to be visually appetising. First impressions are key as we eat with our eyes. The dignity aspect of recreating the IDDSI levels to the same look as the original dish is also key for the residents, so that they understand and recognise what they are eating.’ – James Clear.
These training days are a true reflection of the partnership e-foods have forged with Care UK and the trust they place in our systems and processes.
‘Thank you to all the team at Care UK for the lovely welcome and educating me in an area where I had limited knowledge, and to a standard where I now feel I could provide meals for all levels of dysphagia and all residents requirements using the IDDSI guidelines.’ – Rob Henry FIFST ACIEH.
View more news