Chefs at a care home have cooked up a novel menu for people who find eating or swallowing difficult.
Matthew Drayton and Charlotte Maisey, head chefs at the Close Care Home at Burcot, have adopted the technique of serving pureed food in its original shape.
Using special moulds, pureed fish is reformed into a fish shape, pureed carrots into carrot shapes and so on.
The aim is to make food more palatable for people with eating and swallowing difficulties, to enable them to recognise what they are eating and to give them more dignity at mealtimes.
This new approach has resulted in residents in the home eating more and getting more pleasure out of meal times.
Following a visit to the home, one of Oxfordshire County Council’s quality and contracts officers was so impressed, they suggested that the Close chefs share the technique with other chefs in the county’s care homes.
The council regularly monitors the quality of care in residential homes. Seeing the work of the chefs at The Close, it promoted a number of courses where their skills could be passed on to others.
As a result three courses have been arranged for care home kitchen staff in the county where more than 40 chefs will see how to turn pureed food into an appetising meal.
Matthew said: “The idea came from one of our team whose grandparents were in a care home. The food given to people with dementia was a meal blended to a paste - something he felt could be improved.
“We all worked together to find ways of making pureed food not only recognisable but appetising.”
Charlotte added: “We often ask our residents what they would like to eat and create an easy to swallow version of that dish. It is far less belittling for people to have something that looks like a meal rather than a bowl of slop.”