How we helped Lister house improve their mealtime experience for the people they support living with a Dementia

I was both humbled and also delighted to learn recently from Brian Preston, Catering Manager at Lister House Care Home part of the Royal British Legion, about the redesign work he is doing in his dining area for the people he supports with a Dementia and as a result, that his ladies and gents are enjoying a completely different mealtime experience.

Brian took part in my interactive Dementia Mealtime Challenge Workshop presentation back in October of 2018 at the annual Training and Development Forum for the National Association of Care Caterers, and I bumped into at him again this year’s event. He was very keen to tell me all about the changes that he had made, following on from what he had learnt in my workshop and in our Dignified Dining Guide.

However, I wanted to go and meet with him at his care home to see what he’d done with my own eyes, so last week I was delighted to be invited to go and tour Lister House and also to have a look at the dining room and see the changes that have been made, talk to the staff and look at the positive outcomes that they have achieved since making the changes.

So, I’m going to paint a ‘before’ picture to set the scene how the dining room looked before Brian got to work.

Before Brian started work, the dining room had been extremely bland and just completely emulsioned in magnolia. I learnt that previous Activities Staff had decided to decorate the walls with murals of flowers, sunflowers and butterflies which were widely adorned over all the walls. More recently, staff commented that with this decor, the dining area felt more like a garden room and that it was therefore confusing for the residents and not conducive with a positive mealtime experience. Having listened to and followed some of my top tips for improving the dining experience for people who are living with a Dementia, Brian went back and started his redesign, by removing all of the murals and introducing a range of food themed images which are known to stimulate appetite and renew interest in food.

‘Dining rooms should be welcoming and homelike and everything about them should prompt recognition that it is time for a meal’

Previously meals for the Dementia Unit would be fed through from the main kitchen on a hot trolley and the hot trolley would be situated in a satellite kitchen in the Dementia Unit. Because of this, lots of the residents were up and down, into the kitchen wanting to have a look and see the food, because they weren’t able to see it in the dining area. This was particularly an issue at tea-time when they had residents who were sundowning and led to quite chaotic mealtimes.

So, Brian having observed his residents going in and out of the kitchen, completely got that what they wanted, was better access to see the food that they were going to be served and there are measurable benefits to this.

Visually appealing food, including different colours and familiar smells of cooking can help stimulate the appetites of people living with a Dementia.

So it became very important to Brian that they move the hot trolley into the dining area itself so residents could physically see the food and the choices available and also to experience the delicious smells of the different dishes that were on offer. This led to a much calmer dining room area with less people feeling the need to wander around in search of food, as they could now see and smell the food on display on the hot trolley and as a result were less agitated and were able to sit for longer and gain greater enjoyment at mealtimes.

Extra staff were put onto shift to allow them to sit and eat with the residents at the tables which also resulted in more conversation over the meal tables.

Make eating a social activity: sit down and eat together – this is a proven way to increase nutrition levels.

People are now given choices and a lot of thought goes into their preferences for where they prefer to sit and eat.

Let people choose where they would like to sit and eat – some people prefer a social environment sitting with others whilst they eat their meals, whilst others eat better alone’

There is one gentleman in particular who will only eat when he is on his own so he likes to sit in one of the lounge areas at lunchtimes and have his meal on his own. Because Lister House support ladies and gents who are at different stages in their Dementia journey, some of whom like to be busy and therefore eat on the go, it was lovely to hear the Activities Lady, Sharon Cloak say,

If they won’t come to us, we go to them, with food!’

Staff have even identified that one lady likes to sit in the kitchen area and have her meals in there, where she can remember eating her meals at home. Some staff were saying but there isn’t a table in the kitchen and Sharon suggested they set one up for her, and sure enough they set a table up in the kitchen and this lady very happily sits there and eats her meals.

The pre-ordering of meals has been stopped so real food is plated up and taken around to show to each resident at mealtimes so they can see what they are going to be eating and they can choose according to what they fancy at that time and be served straight away.

There is a new hydration station set up in the dining room which includes a juice dispenser and also a coffee machine and Brian has found that this can be very helpful with people who perhaps aren’t eating vast amounts, for calorie intake, because they can instantly make a resident a milky hot chocolate or a milky coffee that they can drink straight away and really help to boost their calorie intake.

There are no set meal times as such at Lister House, and as I was walking around, I noticed some areas where residents are able to access different snacks and hot and cold drinks all day – fruit, biscuits and cakes, and there are also signs strategically positioned, inviting people to help themselves to the snacks and drinks. This is really important, as people living with a Dementia may see the food but not understand what they are supposed to do with it so providing appropriate signage will help to increase resident engagement and improve nutrition.

A couple of our top tips to help encourage eating for people with a poor appetite to reduce the risk of weight loss include:

  • Have food and drink available and accessible at all times, not just at mealtimes
  • Encourage regular snacks, little and often
  • Finger foods can help an active person to eat on the go

The day I arrived it was Bonfire Night and there was a big activity planned around food for the day, there were going to be fireworks in the evening with jacket potatoes, mushy peas, hot dogs and chilli so a big night to have the activities based around food. That their residents would remember.

Also chatting to Sharon, the Activities Co-Ordinator, she organised lots of food based activities. She’d been involved with baking, decorating biscuits, food tasting including different cheeses and fruits and also making popcorn for when they have movie afternoons.

Brian and his fabulous team at Lister House are definitely on a journey of improving their mealtime experience. And they are looking forward to developing different meal choices after receiving their forthcoming IDDSI training.

Brian is also looking forward to some trials in the New Year, moving the main meal of the day to the evening. The team at Lister House have discovered that some of the residents are not motivated in the afternoons to do activities and get involved in home life and partly this is because they have had a good lunch which often will include a pre-lunch sherry and wine with their meal and a two-course lunch and then coffee, who wouldn’t frankly, I think I could do with a snooze after that lot! And traditionally the main meal of the day would have been in the evening.

Research and studies show that swapping meals around and having a good breakfast, a lighter lunch and a main evening meal can help in improving sleep patterns and reduce lethargy during the day and improved concentration and motivation levels in the afternoon. This should encourage the ladies and gents to take part in more activities and have more social interaction in the afternoons. I will be following this trial with interest.

If you would like any help, advice or information to help the ladies and gents you support to have an improved mealtime experience, we can help you with a copy of our FREE Dignified Dining Solutions Guide which is designed to help people with a Dementia eat better.

We can also provide the following services:

  • Mealtime observations/ individual resident assessments
  • Our interactive Dementia Mealtime Challenge Training Workshop
  • Dining Room Environmental Audit service
  • Consultancy and project based work

For more information on any of the above services please call us today on 01773 713713 or email us

#mealtimeexperience #diningwithdignity #dementia #diningforall #mealtimes #carehomes #nutrition #hydration #careindustry #ddsg

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