Helping You Create More Varied Meals For The People You Support With Dysphagia



I remember well, having a conversation with Sinead, a care catering chef customer of mine, that whilst in hospital being treated for throat cancer, her Dad was served only 3 things at mealtimes, rice pudding, custard and jelly for the entire time he was there.

It was a clear demonstration that hospital catering staff were ill-equipped to cater for people with Dysphagia, and Sinead was both appalled and heartbroken at the lack of dignity, care and attention shown to her Dad concerning his nutrition because he had swallowing difficulties.

Sinead went back to her care home, a lady on a mission, passionate to improve a) the presentation and b) the variety of pureed meals they served for their ladies and gents, and went on to write a book and to work with us helping to educate other care catering teams.

We regularly get asked by care home managers how to achieve greater meal variety for dysphagia diets so we know this is a genuine challenge you face, and we always love helping you to solve your challenges!

You may like one of our previous articles with recipe ideas we recently wrote:-Puree Food Molds – 5 Nutritious Puree Food Recipes

As people with dysphagia have a higher risk of malnutrition, it is absolutely vital that they get a good variety of tasty, nutritious and visually appealing meals and, more importantly, also that they do not feel marginalised or treated differently at mealtimes.

With a few notable exceptions, with the right tools at your fingertips most foods are easily pureed.

So, it is more the case that we need to work on our pureed food mindsets, get creative and remember that:


  1. Pureed food is still food. It doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless. Some of the world’s great chefs use pureeing.
  2. People living with dysphagia have the same needs for balanced meals as everyone else does. And their taste buds are still active too!

What is preventing you from serving the same meals to all of the people you support, regardless of their needs and creating a fantastic inclusive mealtime experience for all?

Having the right tools to create dysphagia diets is key as the finished dishes must meet the international IDDSI standards that follow clinical recommendations to reduce risk.

So having a good quality food processor or blender is essential to finely process foods to a completely smooth consistency.

Food thickeners are used to thicken liquids and foods to various consistencies. They help to slow the transit of foods and fluids to allow more time to coordinate the swallowing process create the exact required safe consistency. This prevents foods and fluids from entering the lungs and causing serious complications.


NB: Always refer to your Speech and Language Therapist for correct clinical advice for the people you support with dysphagia

It’s also really important to remember that people often refuse to eat what they can’t recognise, and one of the key challenges with pureed food is how to recreate the original shapes of meals.

Here, food moulds can be incorporated to create the original shapes of pureed food, ie a piece of chicken, a portion of peas, sausages and more. They are available in 12 varieties by food type, as listed below, however they are extremely versatile to help create many different meals as we explain.

NB: Food thickener is added to the food prior to placing in the mould to help retain the food shape and create the appealing finish

Handy tip

When I talk to care home chefs who have mastered the use of food moulds they also tell me that they have helped to significantly reduce their food waste, as any leftover foods they have, they now just puree down, fill their moulds and freeze portions for another day. Quick, simple, done!

Here are a few meal suggestions:


  • If the people you support love eggs, prepare pureed eggs either scrambled or poached on toast
  • Try a cooked breakfast with sausage, scrambled eggs and baked beans
  • Prepared with care, cooked pureed porridge is a hearty and satisfying option with options to add apple and cinnamon for a tasty twist.
  • Mashed bananas can be created using the sausage mould
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, what about a hot bacon sandwich or baked beans on toast?


Lunch: Midday presents another opportunity for tasty, nutritious meals, here are just some examples of what you can produce:

  • Build a puree roast dinner featuring favourite sliced meat( in sliced meat mould), mashed potatoes( in rice mould) and one or two veggie portions (carrot, broccoli, green beans or cauilflower)
  • Steak and chips can be easily presented, (providing the meat is tenderised) using the chicken breast and green beans moulds, or substitute steak for fish (fish fillet mould) if you prefer
  • Many casserole dishes and stews can be processed and presented. Try a pork and apple casserole with mash and veg using the cubed meat mould, rice (for mash) and any veg.
  • Create vegetarian options including a Mediterranean vegetable pasta dish (using pasta mould) with vegetable portions, or a mac and cheese with the pasta mould

Lighter meals and snacks:

Again, think about what you’d like on a plate. Very often, a pureed version can be just moments away. Just because someone is on a pureed diet doesn’t mean they can’t also enjoy sandwiches, biscuits and cakes. Using a soaking solution process, your people can get to enjoy their favourite snacks and treats too!



If you would like more helpful hints and tips on managing dysphagia, then please download our free Dignified Dining Guide here


“My daughter is 12yo. She has diagnoses of Down’s syndrome, oral dysphagia, autism, sensory processing disorder and food intolerances. I have only been able to give her pureed or mashed food which she was not particularly interested in. She is assisted while eating. The first time she saw her ‘food moulded’ dinner she shouted, “carrots!”. The second time she wanted to know what every bit of food was on her plate. This time I had used parsnips in the carrot mould. “What’s that, what’s that?”, she said as she used a fork to scoop up individual pieces of dinner into her mouth with glee. I have neither the time, energy nor interest for ‘faffing’ about these days so the moulds are extremely practical. Easy to clean, easy to fill with food, easy to freeze and the frozen food just pops out. I have made batches of vegetables, meat and fruit, popped them out of the moulds and stored them in another container in the freezer to use later. One can use the broccoli mould for cauliflower and sprouts. The pumpkin mould for turnip and sweet potato and as I mentioned earlier parsnip in the carrot mould. But what is most important is that my daughter is beginning to enjoy her meal times and showing greater independence …. because of the moulded food. From my experience, the silicon food moulds have been a success.

Mrs D. Drewery


Read our trustpilot reviews
Read More

Customer Testimonials

“We’ve built a strong working relationship with Hcsuk over many years, having used them to source, install and service our medical training equipment. We have always found the team very professional, helpful, and well-organised. We’d like to give a particular shout out to Phil, the technician / engineer who has been the consistent friendly face visiting our business to inspect and test our mobility hoists every 6 months. Thank you for all your support and advice.”

P. B. (Care Manager), Blue Bird Care Ltd

You are part of a great company, if we can help you grow by contracting you out to our sites its good for you, but it’s great for us because your service is fantastic, very efficient, everyone within Hcsuk is super helpful in answering queries and every time we’ve had an issue, Hcsuk has always been there to solve the problem almost immediately, which is fantastic.

Leicestershire County Council

Truly exceptional levels of customer service, the best I have experienced for many years. Very helpful staff made follow up calls to ask how the equipment was performing and supplied extra user instructions to supplement the manufacturers manual. I would not hesitate to order from this company again.

Savills Estate Agents

We would just like to pass on our thanks for all of your help with our orders and would be pleased if you would also pass on our thanks to the manufacturers for being so accommodating in meeting our requirements. We have found everyone very helpful.

Lincs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Since I set up the account for Hcsuk over 18 months ago I have found them to be an excellent advocate of our products. They have been willing to learn about the technical and servicing elements to our hoists and the sales staff have really taken on board and proactively promoted our range where possible. I feel that as a company Hcsuk have got the desire and right people in place for growing in this competitive industry. They seem to push themselves to go that little bit further and offer that little bit more to stand out from the rest. May our relationship continue going from strength to strength.

Joerns Healthcare

As a care home manager I have used Hcsuk for my supplies for the last 20 years in two homes. I have always found them to be helpful and reliable. Their products are of the highest standards, they are able to source anything. The delivery service is prompt and regular so I do not have to keep large amounts of stock. They supply extra services such as servicing and repairs which are done efficiently, and training in COSHH. The reps are pleasant and helpful bringing new products to my attention but are never ”pushy”. Aftercare is good, any problems soon sorted. I would recommend them highly and would not think of using anyone else.

Littleover Nursing Home

HPC have supplied Hcsuk (Health Care Services Ltd) for well over a decade now and we would consider them to be a high quality and professional business run in an organised and progressive manor. We do not rank our customers or have a preferred customer status but if we were to introduce such a scheme I can confirm that Hcsuk would easily make such a grade.

HPC Healthline

As a manufacturer we look for key values in a distributor some of these include honesty, reliability, commitment and reputation. Hcsuk carry all of these and many more. With a twenty plus year working relationship we now place Jo and the team at the top of our distributor list. I have no hesitation in recommending Hcsuk to any prospective manufacturer or customer and wish Jo and the team all the best for the future.

Cleenol Group Ltd

It is brilliant that we are able to ring Health Care Services and that you will go the extra mile to get us the stock we need as soon as possible.

Rykneld View Nursing Home

Just to say a huge thankyou to you and your fantastic team, and I mean that from the Heart. I have never before experienced such a person centred company.

Hampton Grange Nursing Home

What I like about working with Health Care Services is the relationship we have built up and the personal service. The homes report that you always deliver on time, the quality is consistently good and the prices competitive. Your team members are always willing to go that extra mile for us and if ever we have an issue there is always someone there to save the day.

Eastgate Care

Thanks to Jo for going over and above to get us our items in time for our special event at Buddleia House – it was very much appreciated. A massive thankyou for your continued assistance as a supplier to ourselves.

Buddleia House

We have always received excellent services from everyone at HCS at our 2 care homes, especially Lee, Jo and Phil. Always professional with a quick response time. Nothing ever seems too much trouble. Recently I had to use them personally for equipment to enable my mothers discharge from hospital. I had a response within the hour for prices and delivery came straight from the manufacturer to speed up delivery. Phil arrived at the same time to put the equipment together for us! I can’t thank them enough for putting our minds at ease and for the continued support from a personal and professional perspective. I’d recommend them to anyone requiring care equipment and its nice to support local businesses. Especially when they do such a good job!!

Orla House

I contacted HCSUK trying to find a hoist that could be operated unaided by the client. I had become very disheartened, no-one was really helpful until I spoke to Donna at HCSUK.

Donna was incredibly understanding, her professionalism raised my spirits again. Everything Donna said she would do she did, including arranging for me to speak to Andrew the salesman who like Donna was incredibly helpful, happy to bring two machines to demonstrate.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are good people.

Penelope C

I spoke to Lee Atterbury 2 weeks ago, when I was despairing about the prospect of finding any equipment to help my husband in the bathroom. I had tried all the popular brands, but none were right for his needs.

When I spoke to Lee he understood what I was saying and set about trying to find what we need. He was so patient and understanding and gave me the confidence to explore outside the box.

I spoke to Lee today and was able to tell him that we, hopefully, have found the solution. I am sorry that it was not a product you sell, though you may in the future, but will certainly look first to HCS for other products.

Thank you so much to Lee for first class customer service.

Christine G, Sheffield

VAT Relief Information

Conditions for VAT relief for disabled people

Some of the products which can be purchased from the Hcsuk website are available for an eligible person to purchase without paying VAT on them. HM Revenue and Customs sets out the conditions when equipment for disabled people might be free of VAT and how to claim exemption from paying VAT on these products.

Products a can only be exempt from VAT when all the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate
  2. The goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer
  3. The goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate

A more detailed explanation of each of these conditions is given below, but you should visit the HM Revenue and Customs Website to fully understand the conditions

The product must be being purchased for someone who is chronically ill or disabled.

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person:

It does not include a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

‘personal or domestic’ use means that the supply must be made available specifically for the use of an eligible individual.

You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.

What counts as personal or domestic use?

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

Products which are offered for sale on this website which qualify for VAT relief to be claimed for an eligible person.

The products which can be bought without paying VAT are:

Only the products on our site carrying the VAT exemption price (the smaller price marked ex VAT) are eligible to be purchased this way and you must tick the box on the basket page indicating that you wish to claim VAT exemption on the items in your basket that are eligible for VAT relief.

How to claim

On the my basket page of this website a link to the online declaration form is provided if the basket contains a product that qualifies for VAT relief. You must tick the box to state you wish to claim VAT relief on the eligible product and complete in full the reason by which you are ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and name and address of the claimant. If possible the person making the claim should complete this form, but a family member, carer or medical professional may complete the form on the claimants behalf. To submit the claim and receive the VAT relief, click the ‘Submit VAT Relief Claim’ button before proceeding to the checkout.

Please note that all orders submitted with a VAT relief claim form completed are checked before the order is processed.

It is necessary to complete a separate claim form each time a qualifying product is purchased from Hcsuk.


Your Cart