Twelve chefs from the Hartford Care group attended an innovative and informative chef training day at Bidfood, the food service wholesaler in Slough.
The full day meeting at the professionally equipped development kitchen was organised and arranged by IPA Purchasing and Bidfood. Both businesses supply quality food items to Hartford Care to ensure the menus are varied and nutritionally balanced.
The day of training was delivered in two sessions. The morning session was hosted by Hartford Care HR director Leah Marie Mills who discussed the importance of healthy, high quality home cooking and the expectations of a dining experience.
The group of attendees discussed ways they can support residents' health and wellbeing when it comes to nutrition and diet in 14 care home locations across the south. There was an opportunity to discuss the needs of residents who live with dementia and the ways taste buds, eyesight and diet can evolve over time.
Developing a complementary diet is highly important for residents to have variety and choice in their daily eating. Will Turner from IPA shared ideas with the chefs to explain the importance of planning and developing menus according to seasonal tastes.
Leah Marie Mills believes the training will provide an opportunity for staff to learn new food preparation techniques. She says: "This training session ensures that the team of exceptional chefs are equipped with the knowledge they need to make a positive difference to our residents."
The practical afternoon session was delivered by Sean McArdle, an experienced care catering chef who runs Smooth Food Solutions. As the former director of service and wellbeing for Helen McArdle Care, Sean was able to offer practical step by step guidance for preparing food according to the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework.
The IDDSI aims to develop standardised terminology and definitions to describe foods textures for individuals who have dysphagia. The session focussed on preparing high quality, delicious and beautifully presented pureed foods in moulds according to the IDDSI framework. After the demonstration, the team of Hartford Care chefs cooked, prepared and presented the food with time left for tasting.
Sean McArdle explains: "We cooked several fresh ingredients such as chicken, sausages, carrots, broccoli, butternut squash and fish. These ingredients helped us to create chicken dinners, sausage casserole, a curry and fish and chips, for example.
"These ingredients are cooked in a liquid and additional stock can be added and blended to make a smooth consistency. This is then passed through a sieve and added to the pan to boil.
"I set up Smoothfood Solutions in 2016 because I have a passion for food, and it was obvious that more needed to be done for people who have swallowing difficulties. It is fantastic to see Hartford Care adopting these methods to make a difference.
"The obvious benefits include people eating more, but it also makes a positive difference to the kitchen and care staff. Families of the residents will also see that their loved one is looked after by a company that is striving to provide the best care!’
The chefs can implement the training when they return to their care home kitchens and the feedback demonstrates the difference it will make: "Great day, whole new learning experience for me with some great ideas." "I enjoyed learning about how to make pureed food for people with swallowing difficulties." "It was great to meet the chefs from all the homes and discuss issues that affect everyone."