Nutrition concerns are high on the agenda; it has been estimated that one in five elderly residents of care homes are at medium to high risk of malnutrition.
While older people need fewer calories than the youth of today, they still require the same nutrients to keep healthy.
A Hearty Breakfast
A ‘top tips’ recommendation on food was launched earlier this year by Care UK, which provides care and support services to more than 7,000 people across the UK in 110 care homes and 13 day care centres. Breakfast in particular, was the meal that the organisation focused on. The initiative promoted the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast to provide much-needed energy, improve memory and concentration levels, as well as lowering stress levels.
Nutrition and catering expert for older people at Care UK, Andrew Mussett commented: “During the night your glucose levels have plummeted. The brain needs glucose to function and low levels affect our cognitive abilities: in other words you’re not at your sharpest which can lead to falls and mistakes.”
Meanwhile, other organisations are attempting to educate care home staff, cooks, owners and managers, to pay greater attention to food. The Royal Society of Public Health offers a range of courses and qualifications which fill this gap.
Individual care homes have been innovative in their own right in providing high-quality food on a budget. For example, Anchor introduced a new system of ordering in 50 Anchor homes all over England. Rather than requesting residents to order their meals in advance, plates of food are shown to them at the table, and they choose which option they prefer. As a result, residents are more likely to finish the food, cutting down on wastage and obviously saving valuable money, catering on a budget of just £2.60 per person per day.
However, even more savings can be made in large scale catering, such as choosing the right oven. AC Services (Southern) recommends the Rational range for efficiency, reliability and cost efficiency. For instance, the Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses combi steamer enables all cooking methods (steaming, blanching, grilling, braising, baking, or roasting), which can be used individually, successively, or combined in just one appliance, saving time and money.
The care home industry is in crisis but there are positive moves to change the way they are managed and run. “Care home owners and managers need to concern themselves with the whole picture,” comments MD of AC Services, Helen Hagger. “Cutting costs does not automatically mean cutting corners. Food standards have to be maintained but investigating cost efficiency in the kitchen, such as contacting us for a demonstration of the capabilities of the Rational ovens can lead to significant and positive changes in a care home kitchen.”