Catering toolkit to be rolled out to 60 care homes after trial delivers results

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The Healthcare business of Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest catering firm, is rolling out a ‘Dignified Dining’ toolkit in more than 60 hospitals and care homes.

The initiative aims to provide exceptional nutritional care to people living with dementia by outlining its 10 key nutritional-related guidelines, enabling them to receive more personalised and specialist support in relation to their food provision, an essential part of their care.

The Compass Healthcare team developed the toolkit around three areas: Food, Service and Environment. The toolkit has been successfully piloted at two care home sites, over a period of three months.

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As part of the pilot scheme, catering and care was provided at both sites with joint training in dementia awareness being provided by Alzheimer’s Society UK.

The pilot saw Compass Healthcare employees working with friends and relatives of  residents to build up a clear picture of  each person’s daily eating  preferences and routines in relation to meal times before they had dementia, resulting in the creation of an individualised  nutritional care plan  for each resident.

Additionally, a system was created which can be used to process map the journey of a meal from the time the meal is prepared to the time it is served. This encourages the catering team to be flexible in serving food when the resident requires it.

Compass also devised ‘DMAT’ (Dementia Mealtime Assessment Tool) – a checklist carried out by the chef manager to identify common behavioural  eating difficulties during mealtimes. Information gathered was then used to generate suggestions on how eating difficulties can be overcome, so that residents are able to eat independently for as long as possible.

Overall, the pilot scheme enabled the sites to gain a better understanding on the nutritional needs of each individual resident and enhanced the resident’s mealtime experience. The tools also facilitated the provision of individualised nutritional care.

Steve Cenci, managing director of Healthcare at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “We are extremely proud to be launching the Dignified Dining toolkit at our client sites throughout our healthcare business. Managing the nutritional intake of individuals living with dementia is an essential part of their care. Our pilot schemes demonstrated the benefits of understanding more about the patient’s past, as well as their current condition, in order to provide them with a food offer they wanted and ultimately would eat. We are looking forward to rolling out the toolkit to enable our team to provide exceptional nutritional care for each individual patient and resident living with dementia.”

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “As dementia progresses, eating and drinking can become a real issue. Poor nutrition and dehydration can lead to weight loss, vulnerability to infection, increased confusion, and urinary tract infections which can worsen the symptoms of dementia.

“Initiatives like Dignified Dining, which work creatively to help people with dementia to enjoy food, eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated can play a role in helping people with dementia to remain healthy.  Most residents in care homes have dementia, so it is important that all staff, from cooks to care workers to managers, have a good understanding of dementia and are aware of the best ways to support people with the condition so they can eat and drink well.”

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