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Care homes encouraged to put food first at event which gave cooks fresh ideas

The Food First event. Richard Hughes and Sam Cole. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGs

The Food First event. Richard Hughes and Sam Cole. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGs

North and South Norfolk CCGs

Chefs and carers from a range of care homes caring for the elderly, those living with dementia and learning difficulties joined together for a study day aiming to put food first for residents.

The Food First event. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGsThe Food First event. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGs

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from North Norfolk, South Norfolk, Norwich and West Norfolk worked together with The Assembly House in Norwich to organise an educational hands-on workshop day providing innovative and fresh ideas to care home cooks.

And it all had the aim of encouraging care homes to look at how they can adapt their menus to suit residents’ needs, instead of using oral nutritional supplements (ONS) commonly known as meal replacement shakes.

Sam Cole, NHS North Norfolk and NHS South Norfolk CCG transformation manager said: “The day aimed to give care homes solutions and the confidence to try new ways of encouraging residents.

“Eating large meals can be daunting and difficult for some, it isn’t easy to encourage oral intake in some cases, and we want to highlight alternative options to ONS where possible by simply fortifying food and drink and ultimately bringing back the joy of food.”

The Food First event. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGsThe Food First event. Photo: North and South Norfolk CCGs

The event included mocktail making with researchers in hydration care from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UEA to boost fluid intake in a fun and inspiring way.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) community mental health nurses Cathy Arbuthnot-Jones and Debbie Thompson spoke about promoting good nutrition for people living with dementia and there was an interactive cooking demonstration with locally-renowned chef Richard Hughes to introduce new flavours and increase calorie intake in a controlled and nutritional way.

Carrie-Ann Higgs, head cook at Hassingham House Care Centre in Hingham said: “It is often ideas that we run out of, we try providing residents favourite meals or by presenting the food in different ways such as smaller plates or individually but that is not always successful. This day is a great way of not only providing us with practical methods we can use in our everyday roles but will also mean that, as cooks, we can exchange thoughts with other people doing the same thing at other care homes.”

Mr Hughes added: “It is really important to me that food is exciting and a pleasure at every stage of our life. There are times when our appetite isn’t as strong or food doesn’t seem as appealing so the day will provide ways of making food stimulating once again.”

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