Lynx Purchasing director Howard Pearson reflects on the company’s support for a growing number of care homes, ahead of the Care Show at the NEC Birmingham on 4th and 5th November. Lynx will be offering a free invoice audit to any care home operator who visits them on Stand A55.
Care for the elderly is rarely out of the news these days, with each week bringing a new policy or guidance from government or health professionals on some aspect of caring for the UK’s ageing population. Nutrition is often included within these and, from Lynx’s involvement with a growing number of care homes, we’ve seen what a difference the right food can make to the quality of life enjoyed by many elderly people.
Catering within the care home sector presents a unique set of challenges. Care home operators provide tasty, nutritious, appealing food to residents with diverse appetites and dietary requirements, up to three times a day. In keeping with the focus on providing personalised care, also have to provide as much choice as possible, while keeping within a budget that, as with all food providers, is being constantly squeezed by rising food costs.
It’s far from easy and I’m always impressed by the quality of food that our care home customers are able to offer, day in, day out. It is a testament to their commitment to providing their residents with the best quality of life possible, and recognising that good food is one of life’s great pleasures and should be enjoyed by everyone, throughout their life.
All care homes now have a personal care plan for each of their residents, which includes dietary requirements and preferences. With careful planning, it’s possible to provide a menu that meets their nutritional needs, which might mean, for example, reduced cholesterol and salt to lessen stroke risk, while still offering tasty food.
One of our customers, B&M Care, runs regular surveys of its residents, asking them what dishes they’d like to see on the menu. Fish & chips is always near the top of the wish list, so it’s offered but adapted where necessary by, for example, serving steamed rather than battered fish, which reduces fat content and is easier for residents who have difficulty swallowing. Similarly, by substituting a low-sugar version of a chocolate mousse, diabetic patients can enjoy this treat that would otherwise be off the menu for them.
Adapting dishes in this way means that residents are offered a menu that’s pretty close to what they’d choose for themselves. Importantly, it means they enjoy their meals – which all our care home customers have as an aim, because of the huge benefits it brings to their residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Nutrition planning isn’t just about preventing healthcare problems, it can also effect change in an individual’s health. Again, working with B&M Care we were able to make a real difference with a new resident, admitted to one of their homes from the community at the age of 77. Suffering from multiple health problems following a stroke, she had poor mobility, cognitive impairment and malnourishment. We arranged for a nutritionist from Brakes to visit the resident and work with the B&M team to create a diet plan.
The effect was nothing short of transformational; after a few months on the new regime, the lady had progressed from pureed food to a near-normal diet, had moved from the dementia care section of the home to the residential floor and was taking part in activities. Getting the right food gave her a new lease of life and we were pleased to have played a part in bringing about such a positive result.
Lynx Purchasing now works with hundreds of care homes across the UK, from large groups to independents. As well as food and drink, we can access suppliers of other products and services routinely bought by care homes, from cleaning supplies right through to utilities and telecoms, helping care home operators to achieve their goal of providing a comfortable, welcoming environment and a nutritionally balanced menu for their residents, within a fixed budget.