Professional training for catering in the health and social care sector has taken a gargantuan step forward with the launch of the NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care Catering. The very first professional qualification for the sector, the ground-breaking course will pilot in May 2015 at Barnet and Southgate College in North London.
The 20-week pilot course and qualification is the result of the collaborative vision and work of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA), and Barnet and Southgate College. The programme addresses the stark absence of a recognised formal professional catering qualification dedicated to the health and social care sector. It also upholds a joint commitment to continuously improve the quality and standard of food in health and social care settings, and to position catering in this specific field as a viable and progressive career choice.
The pilot course is open to chefs and cooks working in hospitals or residential care homes who are able to attend Hospitality House, North London’s state of the art training facility, for the duration of the course.
Students will gain the necessary understanding and specific skills required for effective catering in the healthcare, social care and community meal sectors, raising excellence across the board and further safeguarding the health and wellbeing of patients, residents and service users.
The diploma will cover the core curriculum required by any professional chef, including effective teamwork, hygiene, the maintenance of health and safety, and cookery units focusing on fish, meat and poultry preparation as well as vegetable dishes. Additional specialised topics specific to the health and social care sector will cover the vital areas of nutrition and hydration, fortification, texture-modified foods, and allergies and diets.
The long-term aspiration, following the pilot, is to roll out the course to colleges nationwide by 2016.
Neel Radia, National Chair, NACC, enthuses: “The absence of a professional qualification in health and social care catering has been a huge concern and injustice for the sector and those working within it. I’m thrilled that by working together with our association partners we are one giant step closer to redressing the balance. Caterers within the sector are already doing a great job and the examples of excellence we see daily are inspirational. However, the endorsement that this qualification brings will ensure that standards continue to rise by giving caterers the training, recognition and pride they deserve. It will also broaden the sector’s appeal for school leavers, attracting new talent and flair, and this is incredibly exciting for us all.”
HCA National Chair, Andy Jones, concurs: “We are delighted to announce that we are now at the stage of piloting the new NVQ course. National standards for the profession is the way to go and this is a fantastic opportunity for training and development in our sector, not only for those working within the sector, but also as a pathway for students who, when leaving school, wish to train and work within health and social care catering.
“This joint initiative with the NACC and Barnet and Southgate College underlines the value of collaboration and illustrates how by working together we can make a difference by equipping the people who take up the NVQ with a professional qualification, which in turn should lead to improvements in the standard and quality of food we serve.”
Peter Tiley, Head of Hospitality House, Barnet and Southgate College, said: “In this exciting project we aim to incorporate the essential skills and knowledge required by hospital and care home chefs into the existing NVQ framework. Experts from the sector have developed professional standards in the areas of nutrition and hydration, fortification, texture-modified foods, and allergies and diets. While studying the practical and theoretical skills required by a professional chef, the students will also benefit from the delivery of sector specific techniques.”