3 minutes Sector News

Better Together: Enhancing Food Experiences in Care Homes

The National Activity Providers’ Association (NAPA) has joined forces with Lakeland Dairies to produce ‘Working Together’ a free downloadable toolkit, providing helpful advice and tips for care home staff. Its aim is to help colleagues build engaging food activities that go beyond the dining room by building on successful current practice and finding new ways to achieve shared goals.

“We should all be working towards the goal of creating nutritional activities that are fun, inclusive and attainable and then expand from there,” says Natalie Ravenscroft from NAPA. “The key is to open the lines of communication and appreciation for one another’s responsibilities. We all have our own set of challenges to solve every day, but by coming together, we can alleviate some of those problems for each other.” The toolkit encourages openness amongst teams, suggesting ways in which they can harness different skillsets to the benefit of the residents. Natalie says, “Get started with a tiny step: print out the toolkit for some great suggestions on working together and its advantages. This will help you start thinking about what’s working well and what could use a little attention.” When creating activities, it’s important to first uncover what sort of food-based activity your residents would enjoy. Natalie says, “We should always be asking ourselves ‘What’s in it for them?’ when planning engaging activity programmes and mouth-watering meals.”

For residents who are unable or don’t want to go to the common areas for food activities, Natalie suggests starting with the food delivery and presentation. “If you are planning on hosting an event called ‘Afternoon Tea’, give some thought to how the food will be presented on a tray, how the drinks will be served, and what kinds of conversational pictures you can use as a place mat on the tray. Additionally, it would be good if you could provide five questions and five fascinating facts to assist the care teams in prompting a conversation relating to the event when they deliver the trays.”

Cooking sessions with residents offer opportunities for collaboration. Natalie says, “They are a great platform for engaging in reminiscence, promoting nutrition and assisting in the selection of menu items. Catering teams can suggest suitable recipes as well as equipment accessible to individuals of all abilities. Find a role for everyone whether it’s kneading dough, mixing, making decorations or washing up. When it comes to bringing people together through shared experiences, cooking classes aren’t limited to cakes and desserts – savoury dishes and cultural recipes work just as well.”

Top Tips – Here’s some advice from the toolkit on how to create an enjoyable food activity for residents:

  • Determine whether you want to run a theme for the event
  • Design menus for the meal and decide what to serve
  • Lay the tables with special linen and table decorations
  • Put objects that reflect the food on the table
  • Create a playlist of favourite music
  • Have a dress code – everyone loves dressing up!