On Thursday 4th May delegates from across the care home spectrum enjoyed a one-day conference on the synergy between good nutrition, better health and quality of life for older people.
For the third year running the Care Home Catering Forum was held at the magnificent Haberdashers’ Hall in London, and once again the audience was treated to a full programme of speakers and interactive sessions designed to give care home owners, operators, managers and chefs the tools to further enhance the lives of their residents through nutrition and hydration best practice.
Keynote speaker Lesley Carter, Senior Health Influencing Manager at Age UK, set the scene for the day with an overview of the changing population structure in this country and evidence that there is a whole host of contributory factors to holistic wellbeing in later life. As Lead for the Malnutrition Task Force set up in 2012 to raise awareness of malnutrition across the healthcare sector Lesley was well placed to highlight the vital role of food and drink in this sector and the also the barriers that get in the way of good nutritional intake.
The subject of meat reduction and evidence to show that vegetarian and vegan diets tend to have significant health benefits, plus tips for creating a high energy, meat-free diet suitable for older people was covered by Amanda Woodvine from the charity Vegetarian for Life (VfL), while the Alzheimers’ Society’s Joanne Rose delivered an interactive information session which resulted in all delegates becoming a Dementia Friend, with the skills to improve the way they engage with residents living with dementia.
National Deputy Chair of the NACC Sophie Murray outlined the help that is available to the sector in the form of guidance documents from the NACC and other bodies, and explained how her organisation, Sunrise Senior Living, prioritises staff training and works from its own Nutrition and Hydration Manual in order to deliver best practice.
Sophie emphasised how important it is to treat hydration as a standalone issue – a view which was echoed by the next speaker, Julie Slevin, who presented the work of the Think Kidneys programme in raising awareness of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). Delegates learnt how to spot those residents most at risk and some useful tips for preventing AKI.
Debbie Harris from care home finder Chosen with Care put the business case for opening up care homes to the community with child-friendly cafes and meeting facilities; Steve Reynolds, Chairman of NAPA, urged delegates to make mealtimes more meaningful by treating every meal as a special occasion and engaging all the senses; food safety specialist Fiona Sinclair discussed the ways in which in-room food safety can be addressed in order to protect residents; and Tarryn Gorre, Co-founder of Kafoodle, told delegates why they should be moving away from Excel spreadsheets and whiteboards for smarter, more efficient menu planning and relative engagement.
You can read an in depth report of the Care Home Catering Forum in the next issue of Care Home Catering.