The ‘Care Home Catering 2014’ report explores the issue by examining both the experience and views of people with a relative or friend currently residing in such accommodation, and people who had a loved one in a care home within the last five years. This included both publically and privately funded homes.
The decision to move a relative or friend to a care home is often very sensitive; it is therefore no surprise that the quality of food provided at the home is a foremost concern. 38% of people with relatives/friends in care homes say food would be extremely important to them in the future, when choosing a care home for their own or a relative’s use.
So how do care homes rate among the respondents? Overall, people with relatives/friends in care homes are more likely to select positive than negative statements when considering the three main mealtimes. ‘Well balanced’ is the most popular association with all three meals. Other popular descriptions are ‘nutritious’, ‘healthy’, ‘tasty’ and ‘fresh’.
Amongst people with relatives/friends currently in care homes, a significant propoMroe rtion (32%) believe that care home meals are to some degree better than the meals their relative/friend ate at home. Compared to at NHS hospitals this rises to 55%. Considering hot meals that are delivered home, 37% say the care home food is better.
There is room for improvement however. 37% of people with relatives/friends currently in care homes and 35% of people with relatives/friends who were in care homes would like to see more fresh fruit on the menu. There is also a demand for more home-cooked meals (31%/26%). There is also a desire to consult with residents/patients on menus and to be careful not to use too much processed foods. Significantly, many would be willing to pay extra to improve the quality of meals (32%/36%).
Tom Rees, Associate Research Director at YouGov Reports said; ‘There have been a lot of negative stories in the press in the last few years concerning standards at care homes. Our research shows that although there is definitely room for improvement in some areas many of those who have relatives or friends staying in a home are satisfied by the meals provided.
Nevertheless, the research indicates that caterers could perhaps work more closely with both state and privately funded homes to make sure that the concerns of friends and relatives concerning freshness of food and home-cooked meals are addressed.’