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Transforming care home catering

Care UK Food and Services Director, Jon Bicknell

The week of 11th - 17th March was Nutrition and Hydration Week, which promotes the value of food and drink in health and social care. Here at Care UK, our Food and Services Director, Jon Bicknell, is our champion of nutrition and hydration. In fact, since joining us in 2014, he has transformed all aspects of our food and dining offer. As a result, we’re leading the way in the care sector in all-things nutrition-and-hydration-related.

A person-centred focus

In essence, Jon has made food and dining person-centred, aligning it with our overall care ethos. “There’s a big emphasis on cooking with fresh produce, a more flexible approach to meal times, a real choice of dishes, and our Dining with Dignity initiative ensures that each resident receives the ultimate mealtime experience,” he says.

Care UK dining room

Thanks to Jon’s efforts, all Care UK homes now use a blue-rimmed, deeper crockery rather than all-white, shallow tableware, and there’s not a single clip-on food guard being used anywhere in the organisation. The new crockery supports residents who have dexterity problems and/or a visual impairment, and has led to people eating more, because they’re better able to see and eat their food independently.

Dining with Dignity is also about making meals more pleasurable and fulfilling. Jon looked carefully at everything from the dining room layout to table/tray settings (linen cloths and napkins, bud vase and condiments), the preparation and presentation of texture modified diets, staff appearance and behaviour, and encouraging independence and individual choice.

You can hear what dining with dignity means at one of our Midlands homes, Chandler Court

Enhancing modified diets

Care UK soft food

Improving texture modified diets has been a major focus. A huge investment in chef training, and in kitchen tools and technologies means that the texture, taste and presentation of these meals has all been revolutionised. “Chefs are presenting modified meals that are as beautiful as a non-modified meal,” explains Jon. “And you can see the resident’s joy when they eat that meal.”

Finding and keeping the right chefs and kitchen colleagues has been vital too. Many of the chefs being recruited come from the hotel and restaurant sector. “While they have the skills to create lovely meals,” says Jon, “they must have empathy and not be fazed by supporting people with dementia.”

Showcasing excellence

In December 2018, Jon’s incredible efforts were recognised when he accepted the Group Care Home Caterer of the Year award at the inaugural Care Home Catering Awards.

We also recently got the great news that Graham Watson, head chef at Lauder Lodge in Edinburgh, and Care UK’s Chef of the Year 2018, is through to the finals of the National Association of Care Catering’s Care Chef of the Year awards 2019. We wish Graham every success in the final on 5th June.