Tag Archives: Care homes


Celebrating 70 Years of Service

Platinum Jubilee

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend is fast approaching to celebrate her 70 years of service to the country and Commonwealth.

She has served longer as the British monarch than Queen Victoria, who managed almost 64 years. And in case it comes up in a quiz, she needs to go beyond 72 years and 110 days to beat Louis XIV of France for the ultimate record as longest serving monarch.

Any way you look at it, it’s an impressive feat of service in the many senses of the word.

Four Day Weekend

The official Platinum Jubilee celebrations take place over the 4-day weekend from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June:

  • 2nd June Trooping the Colour from 9-12.30, followed by the official fly past at 1pm
  • 2nd June lighting of the beacons across the country at 9.45pm
  • 3rd June Service of Thanksgiving at St Pauls
  • 4th June Queen to go racing for the Epsom Derby
  • 4th June Platinum Party at the Palace broadcast by the BBC
  • 5th June Platinum Pageant Procession with a carnival atmosphere at Buckingham Palace
  • 5th June official Big Jubilee lunch

In all a good mixture of celebration, fun and traditions, old and new. Trooping the Colour always happens on the Queen’s birthday weekend, but has been moved to a June spot to coincide with the weekend. Beacons have always been lit on the Queen’s Jubilees in what seems to be increasing numbers of sites. While the Queen’s favourite hobby gets a look-in at the Derby, because life cannot always be about work perhaps?

Catering Service

Parties, processions and lunches always provide opportunities for catering businesses of all kinds. So, the question for all is what could you do for this weekend with your catering business? If, for example, it’s hospital catering, how could you mark the key days for staff and patients unable to join the main festivities? If you’re a sports bar is there a link to the Derby to be made? And for all what links could be made to national or local events?

It’s not too late to plan so that food, drink and staff are all available in this opportunity to celebrate and create memories. Start by checking out the many planned events on the official government website. This is a listing of events already planned by geographic area, so there may be an easy link to something already happening. A pre-beacon lighting drinks/meal or watching the beacons in comfort? Even better there is the opportunity to submit your own event to help publicise it more widely as well as telling your local media.

The Big Jubilee Lunch has its own website for more ideas. The key here is that lunches can and will take place on any of the 4 days, not just the Sunday. It’s all about pulling local communities together to celebrate in whatever format that works. This could be a single venue lunch or getting together with others for a multi-stop tasting menu. Or working with local groups to help their fundraising and awareness on one of the days.

Above all the Platinum Jubilee is the opportunity to celebrate service and those who have managed to overcome the challenges that life has thrown at them along the way.


Published Date: 26th April 2022
Category: Blog, Catering Business, Events, News
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Qualified Catering for Care Homes?

Care homes cateringSummer has all but evaporated with the promised Indian summer failing to materialise. It’s time to put away the flip-flops and sun-cream and turn our attention to the winter months. For most, it’s terrifyingly close to the countdown to Christmas. Even John Lewis is confusing us with a pre-Christmas Christmas advert. For thousands of people in care homes, autumn as with winter bring other worries.

Hundreds of care homes are not meeting legal standards. These specify that food should be “suitable to sustain life and good health” says a report published in the Independent. Over the past three years, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have found numerous older people’s care homes failing on the legally required standards for nutrition and hydration. The most serious cases involve residents lasting almost a week with the equivalent of two cups of water and “minimal food”.

To meet the standards, regulations specify people’s religious and dietary needs must be catered for and adequate food provided. A survey conducted in March suggested “abuse” of older people, such as not giving enough time to complete meals, occurs in 99% of care homes. This is driven largely by staff shortages.

New Qualification

This is an issue that has to be addressed fast. A recent study shows that demand for care home places will rocket by more than three quarters in less than 20 years. Almost 190,000 more elderly people will require care by 2035.

If we look at catering, there’s a very worrying issue in that qualifications for care home catering are virtually non-existent. In fact, the first professional catering qualification for health and social care catering (Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care) was only officially approved by the Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework in 2017.

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC), Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and the awarding body of the Institute of Hospitality (IOH) developed the Level 2. It is designed for health and social care settings and offers an awareness of diet and appetite issues. It covers nutrition, hydration, food modification. Also included are the effect of dysphagia on patients and how to plan, prepare, cook and finish food for this condition.

Peter Ducker, Chief Executive, Institute of Hospitality, said: “Caterers in hospitals and care homes now have their own rigorous and specific qualification for their unique training needs. This may encourage more people to choose health and care catering as a…profession and we would urge all organisations that work in the field of health and social care to make the new qualification available.”

New Career

Funding for care homes is high on the agenda for all political parties. Not least because the belief is that the industry is at crisis point. This means inevitably that something will change soon, hopefully for the better. Having an infrastructure in place, such as specialist qualified catering staff is a positive and proactive move. With apprenticeships now back on the agenda as an alternative to higher education, there is the opportunity to recruit a new generation of chefs with a brand new qualification.

AC Services (Southern) maintains a number of Rational appliances at care homes across the South West and South Wales. We recommend Rational ovens to those care homes looking for reliability, performance and quality with their cooking requirements.


Published Date: 19th September 2018
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational
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Care Home Crisis Continues

Care home cateringThe care home sector is hitting the headlines at the moment with the run-up to the election. Focus is on the over-65s with care needs, which is set to rise by a quarter by 2025. This will mean 2.8 million people in England and Wales requiring help and care. 

There is a worry that due to the shortage of care workers and the poor state of social care, the impact on people on lower incomes unable to live independently will increase.

Professor Eric Brunner of UCL says: “We find that ageing of the population in the next 10 years will cause an increase in burden of disability that we must not ignore.”

Dementia is currently the biggest growing cause of disability and rates are predicted to increase by 49% in over-65s between 2015-2025. This means that 700,000 people will have dementia care needs in 2025. This is a rise of 231,000, when compared to 2015. The second largest cause are mental health problems, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and other chronic diseases. These will increase by 37% over the decade.

Investment Needed

A study in the Lancet suggested that more investment is needed in health and social care. One of the areas that was highlighted was the need to tackle poor diet. Lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo from the University of Liverpool said: “Spending on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, which has serious implications for a cash-strapped and overburdened NHS and an under-resourced social care system.

However, those involved in the care home sector have already raised standards when it comes to food and nutrition. The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) have been running a competition for many years to find The NACC Care Chef of the Year . This year’s final is held on 7th June at Barking & Dagenham College. Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition highlights the care catering sector and the talent of the numerous chefs operating within it.

Zone In to Care Homes

June will also see the launch of Health+Care’s new Catering & Nutritional Zone in association with the National Association of Care Catering. Taking place at London’s ExCeL on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th June 2017, Health+Care expects nearly 5,000 senior care professionals over two days for a seminar on ideas, sourcing and networking opportunities.

The Catering & Nutrition Zone at Health+Care is aimed at helping care business managers, directors and owners to “increase catering standards, share best practice and network with chefs and catering creatives”. Key issues that will be addressed across the two days include hydration, nutrition, procurement, dysphagia, menu planning, mental health residents and hygiene.

Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, said: “The NACC is committed to sharing information, insight and guidance with care providers across the UK to ensure that catering within the sector reaches the highest standards possible and meets the specific needs of the elderly and vulnerable served. Education and training is crucial in achieving this, as is the exchange of ideas and best practice between care professionals.”

AC Services (Southern) maintains many Rational appliances in the care home sector around the country. We recommend Rational to other similar establishments that are looking for reliability, performance and quality with their cooking requirements.


Published Date: 30th May 2017
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News, Rational



South West Cheese Producers

South West CheeseGive me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man.” Wise words indeed from Game of Thrones author, George R.R. Martin, but even he would be spoiled for choice if he ventured down amongst our South West cheese.

Gloucestershire, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall are renowned for their regional foods and cheese is integral to the menus of each region. We are all familiar with Cheddar and Gloucester Red varieties, but throw in a Dunlop or a Forest Oak and it gets more intriguing!

From Gloucester to Cornwall

Woefuldane Organic Dairy is a small family-run business in Gloucestershire which produces organic cheeses, such as Dunlop. The cheese was originally from a town called Dunlop in Ayrshire, then Woefuldane bought the setup 20 years ago when the original supplier sold up. From an ancient recipe, the cheese is now produced in Gloucestershire with a buttery texture and strong flavour.

Another favourite cheese is Forest Oak, which started life as a cloth ripened Dunlop. According to the company, “Forest Oak is smoked twice over oak chips at Severn & Wye Smokery in the Forest of Dean and this is noticeable in its rich yet subtle smoky taste and wonderful crumbly texture”.

Moving down to Dorset, the Woolsery Cheese Company has been the home of award-winning cheeses since 1992, with all produce suitable for vegetarians and gluten free. As well as flavours such as Meadowsweet soft cheese and English Herb Cheese, the company also regularly produces new flavours, including the soft mould ripened cheese, Nanette, which won Silver at the Taste of the West Cheese Awards. This traditionally handmade camembert style cheese ripens to give a white moulded rind with a firmer centre. What makes the company unique however is the launch of cheese wedding cakes to order!

Dorset Red Cheese

Still in Dorset, cheese lovers must taste the Ford Farm’s Dorset Red, a smoked cheese from cows on the company’s West Dorset Estate. Ford claims the cheese is “smooth and velvety, subtly infused with tones of smoked oak, reminiscent of barbecues and long, lazy summer days. Once bitten, forever smitten!” Other flavours include Cave Aged (a cloth-bound Cheddar aged deep within the Wookey Holes Caves), Billies’ Goat Cheddar and Oakwood smoked Cheddar.

In the Devon town of Newton St Cyres is Quickes, boasting a cheese-making legacy of nearly five centuries. 14 generations of the same family have been handcrafting cheeses from specially-bred cows on the farm, producing artisanal cheddar to suit every palate, from the Quicke’s Buttery cheddar to Quicke’s Mature and the two-year-matured Quicke’s Vintage.

Finally, Cornwall boasts a huge choice of cheeses, including the nettle covered Cornish Yarg which is only produced by Lynher Dairies in Ponsanooth in Cornwall but is exported over the world. 2016/17 will see the launch of the newest cheese, Cornish Kern, which is made to a different recipe and is longer maturing with a black waxy rind. The company also produces the Wild Garlic Cornish Yarg.

Cheese is a great British favourite and with so many varieties and flavours to choose from, the South West of England is way up there in cheese manufacture. So there can be no excuses really to prevent the region’s pubs, cafes and restaurants from showcasing truly local South West cheese on their menus.


Published Date: 12th July 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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Red Tractor: Local Produce

Red Tractor logoWith the weather turning more clement and the warmer months approaching (the summer of 1976 has been cautiously mentioned), thoughts are turning to the outdoors: picnics, barbeques and fine dining out on the evenings are top of the agenda.

Now is a good time to push the Best of British concept, and the Red Tractor labelling scheme is making its presence felt.

The scheme aims to unite 60,000 farmers and 800 food business and food-service providers, to ensure that the Red Tractor logo is prominent on food, showing that it is local produce.

At a launch event for the Government’s “Year of British Food” celebrations last week, the NFU, AHDB, Red Tractor and British Food Fortnight organiser Love British Food, Red Tractor Week and a 12-week Red Tractor on-pack promotion across retailers and food-service operators was revealed.

However, the scheme came in for a certain amount of criticism and unease about how the public will back higher local produce consumption. AHDB chief communications and market development officer Christine Watts said the number of consumers supporting British produce is “disappointing”, with price, quality and convenience remaining “dominant” factors.

For local producers in the UK, especially in the South West, if the £100bn UK food industry can be promoted abroad through a dedicated Great British Food Unit, there is no reason why the great British public cannot equally educated.

Devon Local Producers

There are literally thousands of companies in the UK, small, medium and large who advocate local produce. Let’s take Devon as an example.

The Red Earth Kitchen is located in Kingsbridge, at the head of the Salcombe Estuary. The company was founded 12 years ago, in a domestic kitchen with the aim of providing ready meals and deli products exclusively for sale in the local Red Earth Deli. Today, the company makes a range of traditionally hand cooked ready meals using local free-range meat and eggs, fresh seasonal vegetables and rich dairy produce from the local area. Red Earth Kitchen’s most recent introduction has been salads and dips, pates and baked goods as well as Bigbuns, a new range of cupcakes.

If you enjoy cheese, then take a look at Hillside Speciality Foods, which makes a select range of handmade products to accompany any cheeseboard. Fruit pastes, chutneys, relishes and savoury biscuits are all made with ingredients sourced locally wherever possible and in season. And following family recipes which are over 100 years old, the chutneys, pickles and relishes are filled with locally grown fruit.

For those who think that sushi is the height of fishy sophistication, take a look at the products from the Dartmouth Smokehouse, where kiln roasted salmon, trout, and delicacy dishes like smoked eel are traditionally cured and smoked. The company is recognised as one of the UK’s leading speciality smokers and has been the recipient of many prestigious food awards.

And for those who believe that New Zealand is the lamb providing capital, visit Eversfield, one of the few organic farms where every single process takes place onsite. The company breeds, raises and butchers its own meat, from beef and chickens to pork and game, with Eversfield organic lambs born and reared from a flock of mixed sheep.

The Red Tractor initiative is to educate and remind people that British local produce is amongst the best in the world. If you are a caterer gearing up for a hot summer, check out the local produce around you and be clear what local really means in terms of food.


Published Date: 17th May 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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Feeding the Care Home Debate

Care home cateringThe debate rages about care homes in the UK, with the warning that one in three may be forced to close by the end of the year.

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.

New Initiatives

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.”


Published Date: 6th May 2016
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News



The Dunkirk Spirit

Dunkirk Memorial HouseThe Dunkirk Memorial House  in Taunton is owned by the British Legion and is one of the organisation’s care homes that provides for former servicemen and women or their dependents.

The Legion currently has six care homes providing short and long-term care around the country, including four with specialist dementia care.

Each provides long-term nursing and personal care, and the food is an essential element of the service; as Taff Davies, Head of Catering at the Dunkirk home explains, keeping all the residents happy all of the time requires skill.

Catering at Dunkirk

We rely upon two Rational ovens to fulfil the catering needs,” he comments. “Both are in constant use and in my opinion, with many years experience as a catering manager in the armed forces, they are the best on the market.

Dunkirk Memorial House has 60 rooms, as well as a 30-bed Dementia care wing and the emphasis within the facility is on independence. So having a varied menu from which the residents can make a choice is important to Taff, who since his arrival two years ago, has revolutionised the cooking arena!

I prefer to make dishes from scratch, not serve up food that is pre-prepared,” he continues. “This led to many hours spent searching for suitable suppliers, but we eventually got there, and with the help of the ovens, we are now able to produce the highest standards when it comes to meals.

The Rational ovens allow Taff and his team to bake, steam and roast a variety of meats and fish, enabling them to be able to produce locally grown and produced meals for the 84 residents who currently reside at Dunkirk. This to Taff is an important aspect of independent living.

We refuse to serve up substandard food, as the residents at Dunkirk and all of the British Legion homes deserve the highest level of quality from their food.

Oven Care

Should anything go wrong with the Rational appliances, Taff has organised a budget care package for the older oven, a Gas 62 2007 as the other, the G62 WE 2013 is still under warranty. Under the agreement, AC Services (Southern) make two scheduled services annually, and as always, are on call should anything go amiss, although as Taff admits, the majority of calls to the company are simply for new deliveries of cleaning tablets.

The ovens have a variety of functions that help in everyday catering on a large scale, which were explained by the team from AC Services, and which help enormously in the preparation of healthy, fresh meals for the residents,” Taff concludes.

The British Legion home communities include men and women of varied ages and abilities, each with a dedicated social activity team who tailor activities to residents’ needs. As always, the charity is grateful for donations, so to make a donation, simply contact the British Legion  on its website.


Published Date: 22nd September 2015
Category: Blog, Case Study, Catering Business, News, Ovens, Rational
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Caring for Care Homes

Care home cateringIt seems that care homes are always in the news for negative reasons, but the fact is that with such a vast number of them in operation in the UK, there is bound to be a scale of good to bad. Facts just released by Age UK for July estimate that there are currently 11.4 million people aged 65 or over in the UK and over a third of the total UK population is over 50. Indeed, the number of people aged 60 or over is forecast to pass the 20 million mark by 2030.

So care homes (and among this we must include special needs care homes, children’s homes as well as those for the elderly) are not only in demand now but in the future, they will be even more necessary. Catering in care homes is big business: older adults eat on average 4.4 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Junk food does not feature significantly in any surveys taken of the eating habits of the elderly. Burgers and chips are poor substitutes for the time-honoured meat and two veg.

Catering is a vital part of the care home regime, with many mouths to feed and dietary standards to maintain. According to the latest YouGov Arena Food Service Report, one in five current care home users would be willing to pay more for better quality food/ingredients.

Boring Food No More!

Food does not have to be formulaic and boring as is demonstrated by Oliver Smith, who was crowned The National Association of Care Catering Care Cook of the Year 2015,  with the judging panel judging on menus that “showcased real knowledge and understanding of the nutritional and dietary needs of those in a care environment, as well as innovation and flair.”

The winning menu was pork tenderloin, celeriac purée, crispy potatoes and apple followed by chocolate mousse with beetroot. Neel Radia, National Chair, NACC, commented:“Catering for care environments requires specific skills, knowledge and commitment to ensure that the dietary and nutritional needs of the elderly and vulnerable are met. Important factors such as nutrition, budget restrictions, specific dietary requirements and needs, such as dementia, dysphagia and fortification, menu planning and regulations must be understood.

Cooking Appliance

However, how you cook is equally important as what you cook, especially when it comes to large scale catering, so AC Services (Southern) always recommends the Rational oven range when dealing with care homes.

With so many residents with different tastes and dietary requirements, cooking on an appliance which is only able to handle one meal type at a time leads to cold food, delays in serving and disgruntled residents,” comments Helen Hagger, MD of AC Services. “In addition, there is the social element to eating, especially for the older population who are used to eating as a social event, rather than snacking or eating on the move. An oven such as the Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses, which is the only intelligent combi steamer in the market, provides the user with practically unlimited possibilities.”

Whether steaming, blanching, grilling, braising, baking, or roasting, the Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses combi steamer enables all cooking methods which can be used individually, successively, or combined in just one appliance, saving time and money which effectively, is what the UK care home market is looking for! Or at least that’s what the care home clients for whom we service and maintain their Rational ovens tell us.


Published Date: 4th August 2015
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News
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