Good food, good mood - Promoting inclusion and empowerment during mealtimes at HC-One

Good food is at the very heart of kind care. At HC-One, we recognise that not only does food provide Residents with the nutrition and energy they require, but that mealtimes are also an important social experience that bring many older people happiness and joy.

We have spoken with our Development Chef, Chris Bonner, who shares his expertise after specialising in the care sector since 2012 and, prior to that, travelling the world as a chef in the army for 15 years. In this article, Chris explains why good food and nutrition are vitally important for older people and reveals the ways in which HC-One is empowering thousands of Residents across the UK during mealtimes.

What’s on the menu at HC-One?

At HC-One, our Residents can be sure to enjoy a variety of delicious, home-cooked meals, with something different on the menu every single day. Whether it’s a hearty stew or roast chicken, mash and vegetables, our recipes are carefully designed to contain the recommended balance of nutrients and enough calories to maintain energy levels throughout the day.

Did you know, approximately 20% of our energy is used up by the brain each day? That’s why it’s so important to consume enough food and drink, as this not only keeps our organs healthy, but it keeps our mind healthy, too.

How do you accommodate for different cultures and religions at mealtimes?

At HC-One, we are proud to call ourselves home to Residents from a wide variety of backgrounds, so it is important we make every single person feel welcomed and included in every element of their care.

We actively encourage Residents to provide feedback about our menus to help us continuously enhance our food and drink offering across our homes. This includes  working closely with Residents and their loved ones to cater for different cultural and religious beliefs, which ultimately helps us to engineer a diverse menu that accommodates people from all walks of life. For instance, while we serve up familiar British favourites like Cumberland pie and fish and chips, we also incorporate dishes like lamb samosas and pork goulash into our menus.

What are allergens, and how does HC-One manage them?

We adopt a person-centred approach to care at HC-One, which means we cater towards each Resident’s individual preferences and requirements at mealtimes. This of course includes allergies and intolerances, which are identified during a thorough pre-admission assessment with Residents before they move into our homes, with a copy of their dietary information kept in each home’s kitchen.

So, what exactly is an allergen? An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction, even when a very small amount of the substance is consumed, touched, or inhaled. The major allergens include cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, egg, fish, peanuts, nuts, soya beans, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin, and sulphites. In serious cases, some allergic reactions can trigger anaphylaxis, which can potentially be fatal, therefore we provide thorough training to Colleagues to ensure food is adapted where required, and prepared and served safely without cross contamination.

How can care homes cater for special diets?

Special diets are arguably one of the greatest challenges to overcome when caring for older people, as the ability to swallow food decreases with age. In fact, approximately 3,000 Residents living in our care homes have dysphagia, the medical term for swallowing difficulties, meaning they require some form of texture-modified food.

That is why HC-One’s menus are carefully crafted to accommodate texture modified diets and, as most foods can be texture modified, 95% of our menus can be adapted for Residents living with dysphagia. This ensures they still receive nutritionally balanced meals that are safe for them to enjoy.

Colleagues working in our homes have received specialist training to learn how to prepare food safely for Residents with dysphagia, in line with the International Dysphagia Diet Standards Initiative (IDDSI). This framework details the types and textures of foods needed by Residents who have difficulty swallowing, outlining eight texture level classifications for food and drink depending on the Resident’s needs.

While the IDDSI framework means some Residents will require soft, pureed, or liquidised foods, this does not have to come at the cost of great taste and presentation. For example, a Resident with dysphagia may select fish and chips from our menu. After checking the Resident’s dietary information, the home’s Chef must puree the food in line with Level 4 of the IDDSI framework. The Chef prepares the dish, conducts the relevant tests to ensure the texture is modified correctly, and presents the meal to replicate a typical plate of fish and chips, thereby promoting inclusion for the Resident amongst those not living with dysphagia.

What is the dining experience like at HC-One?

While serving up delicious and nutritious food and drink is one of our top priorities at HC-One, we recognise that mealtimes are just as much about the dining experience as they are the food.

Our Colleagues take great care to ensure our Residents enjoy a positive dining experience, by making sure room characteristics like temperature, lighting, cleanliness, noise, layout, and colour, are just right.

Did you know, the ambient dining temperature for Residents is between 19 and 21 degrees and that the best lighting for eating is a subtle diffused light?

By creating a pleasant atmosphere in dining areas, Residents feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. They can therefore engage their senses better, meaning the brain ‘switches on’ the digestive system to get ready for food.

Kind care at HC-One

Good food is just one of the many ways we provide the kindest possible care to Residents living in our homes at HC-One. To find out more about the kind care we can provide you or your loved one, please contact one of our professional Careline advisors on 0333 999 8699.

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