More than 30 guests working in a care setting gathered at Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) in Leatherhead yesterday for the first Best Practice in Care Catering event. The interactive session put attendees in residents’ shoes to show how important positive dining experiences are to quality care.
The session – held during Nutrition and Hydration Week (13-19 March 2017) – was led by Sylvie Silver, executive director of NAPA (National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People) and Paul Wright, UFS elderly care development chef.
Sylvie Silver said: “Mealtimes aren’t just about nutrition, they’re key social occasions too. And like any meaningful activity, care needs to be taken to ensure individual needs are taken into account. And that all starts with seeing things from their point of view.”
At the start of the event, guests were given a pair of glasses to replicate visual impairments common among elderly people, such as tunnel vision and cataracts, before being welcomed into a drab dining room, complete with an aroma of boiled cabbage. A striking example of a bad setup.
Guests were surprised at what residents in poor care settings saw, or in some instances didn’t. With white table cloths, white crockery and white food the results were shocking.
Attendees were then taken through a detailed session with Sylvie Silver. This session highlighted the importance of mealtimes as an activity and how these can be improved for residents.
Paul Wright said: “Pleasant dining experiences are a big part of good quality care and a major factor when people come to choose a home – quite rightly. This session showed just how important a good dining setup is and our guests have left brimming with practical ideas, which is great.”
Guests were then taken back to the ‘live’ care setting which had been transformed with fresh flowers, a colorful backdrop, new crockery and aromas of freshly brewed coffee, a stark contrast to the setting displayed earlier.
To end the day, guests were treated to a masterclass in care cooking which focused on how stronger taste, fortification and ‘grazing’ snacks can be used to help boost nutrition in elderly residents.
James Clear, hotel services manager, Care UK said: “The day was fantastic. The atmosphere alone has been engaging and has provided a great opportunity to share best practice. The good and bad settings were a real eye opener.”
The session was inspired by Care Quality Commission (CQC) guidance and covered a wide range of elements, including ways to improve the dining space and culinary techniques to help boost residents’ nutrition.