Elderly residents at six care homes across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire who have difficulty swallowing food are benefiting from an initiative aimed at encouraging them to eat more.
People experience problems eating and drinking for a number of reasons, for example if they’ve had a stroke or suffer from dementia.
Milford Care, which has homes in Milford, Ashbourne, Alfreton, Belper, Hucknall and Arnold, is about to launch special meals for those residents who have a pureed food diet. Adopting an idea from Germany, the pureed food is made to look like a meal again. Using a thickening product called Gelea, a sausage will look like a sausage should, and a carrot will look like a carrot should.
The meals are being rolled out in all the homes on March 1, thanks to the company’s catering manager Peter Radford.
Peter, 48, a chef of many years who has worked for Milford Care for eight years, read an article about the food, known as ‘smoothfood’ in 2014 and decided to follow it up. He discovered that a company in Germany called Biozoon have come up with a range of food products and processes for people with Dysphagia, who often have meals liquidised due to difficulties swallowing.
The company found a way of making food look like a meal again after it had been pureed, using food moulds and a process called ‘jellification’, which involves adding additives to the food, like you would with a jelly.
Peter said: “This product will help so many people on these smooth diets. They say you eat with your eyes first, so we hope that as these meals look more appetising our residents will be more tempted to eat them which will improve weights and their overall health and wellbeing.”
Peter is currently training staff about the meals at all of the Milford Care homes: Spencer Grove in Belper, Ashbourne Lodge, Milford House, The Meadows in Alfreton, Hazelgrove in Hucknall and Ernehale Lodge in Arnold.
He said: “It’s been brilliant so far. We have trialled the meals with 20 residents and the feedback has been great. The staff are really enthusiastic to try this new technique and improve the lives of our residents.”
Sheila Barwick, home manager at Milford House, said: “I think it’s brilliant. Some of the residents said the pureed food they had before was like baby food so I can’t wait for them to try it.”