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Importance of Training and Qualifications for Care Home Catering Staff

Residential home caterers are a vital part of the social care industry but have not historically been required to hold any formal qualifications. Care home catering is a specialised field, and requires different expertise to other forms of catering. It is vital that, in order to provide an excellent service to residents, caterers fully understand the unique requirements and challenges of working in a care home.

Care home catering

Care Quality Commission Recommendations

Care Quality Commission inspectors have recently challenged the social care sector to improve the quality of residential home catering, and there are signs of improvement throughout the industry. A constant sticking point, however, is the lack of a requirement for caterers to undertake formal training. There is currently no standard training route for those entering the care home catering field, meaning staff are not always fully aware of the needs of residents or the demands of the job. Good care homes have systems and training programmes in place to ensure staff understand the wider implications of care home catering roles, but others might lack the resources needed to do this successfully.

An official, nationally recognised qualification in care home catering would help caterers understand the importance of their role and the huge impact an interesting, varied and balanced diet can play in the wellbeing of residents. The National Association of Care Home Catering and the Hospital Caterers Association recently worked with Barnet and Southgate College on producing an NVQ diploma for health and social care catering professionals. While the results of this offer hope for the future, implementing such a programme on a national scale will take time, and it’s currently still up to individual care homes to ensure residents are adequately catered for.

Unique Challenges

Many caterers entering the care home field will try to adapt skills learnt in previous roles to their new environment. The care home environment throws up some unique challenges, however. Many residents have strict dietary requirements, and these may include needing specially prepared meals avoiding certain textures, ingredients or cooking methods. It is vital that care home caterers be fully integrated into the staff of the establishment and have a full understanding of the needs of residents, as well as a background knowledge of certain care procedures.

There has been an increased focus on the importance of a balanced diet in maintaining physical and mental well-being in recent years, and caterers must have a thorough understanding of the research behind this, while also understanding the different nutritional requirements of individual residents.

As a premier provider of residential care facilities, Balcombe Care Homes is committed to providing extremely high-quality catering to residents. Using only experienced and highly skilled chefs, we strive to produce appetising, varied and balanced menus for all our clients, carefully tailored to individual needs where required.

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