Research published by Sheffield Hallam University has revealed that care homes providing council-funded care spend just £2.44 a day on food and drink for residents.
The study by Norman Dinsdale, a former chef and senior lecturer in hospitality management at Sheffield Business School, is designed to help care homes improve their food and nutrition.
Norman, who has spent over forty years in senior positions within the hospitality industry, said: “For people living with dementia, nourishing food and drink is an essential requirement. I found there was plenty of information on nutrition, dietetics and nursing but zero on how caterers and nutritionists should work together.”
The research found the average daily spend on food and nutrition was well below the recommended level in 2008 of £3.29.
“This is not enough to adequately feed and hydrate a frail dementia patient whose only joy in the day is sitting down for something to eat,” Norman said.
The study found that simple measures such as the physical environment in which people ate and using blue plates and red beakers could make a significant difference to how much food and drink was consumed.
The research contrasted the findings to the high standard of meals given to self-funding care home residents.
Other findings included: managers lacking knowledge about how caterers and nutritionists could work together; little awareness about guidance in improving nutritional care for dementia patients in long term care homes; pureed food not being plated up attractively; and chefs being confused about the use natural of gelling agents which can be used to modify food texture for patients with swallowing (dysphagia) issues.