Care homes spend on average £2.44 a day on food and drink for residents – 85p less than 2008 ‘fair food costs’, a Sheffield Hallam University researcher has said.
Sparking extensive media coverage in the tabloid press, researcher Norman Dinsdale, a former chef and senior lecturer in hospitality management at Sheffield Business School, says that in 2008, the recommended fair food cost for an average council-funded care home was £3.29.
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In the research, conducted via interviews with nine care homes, Sheffield’s Dinsdale said he found care home managers and staff were “mainly concerned with getting the food cooked, plated up and in front of residents, regardless of whether or not they were hungry”.
Other preliminary findings included managers lacking knowledge about how caterers and nutritionists could work together; little awareness about guidance in improving nutritional care for dementia patients; pureed food not being plated up attractively, and confusion about the use natural of gelling agents which can be used to modify food texture for patients with swallowing (dysphagia) issues.
Staff can modify the amount of food residents eat by modifying the physical eating environment, for example, using blue plates and red beakers, could make a big difference to how much food and drink they consumed.
Dinsdale said: “Ultimately what I want is for more care homes to introduce better systems so that they can give the residents more to look forward to and improve their quality of life.”