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Dignified dining solutions

  • Served With A Smile And Made With Love Video

    Click on the image to watch the video

    After a very successful seminar at the Dementia Care & Nursing Home Expo in Birmingham this week, we wanted to share with you the beautiful video created together with Jo Bonser and Big Ian Donaghy who managed to capture the essence of why the Hcsuk team are so passionate about improving the lives of loved ones living with dementia.

    Jo's presentation included her very personal story as a daughter, and how she transformed her Mum’s mealtimes so she could enjoy 4 more Christmas dinners together with her family.

    Jo's message:

    "This week, at the Dementia and Care Expo at the NEC I was so proud to launch our new, heartwarming short film, as part of my presentation to a packed Dementia Care Theatre, 'Served with a smile, made with love, why mealtimes are so much more than a plate full of food’.

    This beautiful video, ‘Made with Love’, has been produced for us by the amazing Big Ian Donaghy, who’s known for making one or two half-decent films! When I first came up with the idea, there was really only ever one man for the job.

    It’s a project which has been on the table, (pardon the pun), for over 2 years, and due to the pandemic has been shelved several times. There were moments when I wondered if we could ever make it happen.

    When I first saw it, I was in bits!

    It will make you laugh

    It will make you cry

    We hope it will make you think

    It has definitely been ‘Made with Love’ because we CARE about helping to make a difference to the quality of life of people living with dementia, and especially the part food, and mealtimes play in that.

    Dedicated to my Mum, Anne, who lived with vascular dementia, and whom I helped to support for over 6 years; together we overcame her many eating difficulties which allowed her to blow out 390 more birthday candles before finally leaving us on Mother’s Day in 2020.

    It’s not just about food

    It’s so much more.

    Have your tissues ready!

     

  • Our MD, Jo Bonser will be speaking live at the Care and Dementia Expo on September 15th, will you be joining us?

    Jo will be sharing her personal story of helping to care for her Mum, which has led her to help care homes improve their mealtime experience for people living with dementia.

    Jo told us:

    In November of 2016, my sister and I were told our Mum wouldn’t survive Christmas.

    These are the words no one ever wants to hear about their loved one, but my Mum’s GP warned us that Mum had given up on life and was ready to die.

    There was no denying that Mum was really poorly, living at home with vascular dementia aged 95, she had suffered 3 falls, several urinary and chest infections and had no appetite or interest in eating or drinking resulting in dramatic weight loss and dehydration. She would not pick up a knife or fork to eat and if you tried to assist her with a meal she would turn away from you.

    However, my Mum was an incredibly strong, and stubborn, lady and we weren’t prepared to just accept what the care professionals said, so we set to work to do whatever we could to help her recover.

    With my, then, 26 years experience from working in the care sector, and having some knowledge of nutrition and hydration for our elders, I decided to take charge of Mum’s mealtimes and began to observe her mealtime behaviours to see what I could do to improve her dining experience and ultimately her nutrition levels.

    I learned that getting people with dementia to eat can be challenging, and that complex interaction with the mealtime environment, plus many eating difficulties can prevent their nutritional intake.

    Following research, I found an online mealtime assessment tool and started to observe Mum’s mealtime behaviours, to identify, find solutions and create a care plan to help overcome her mealtime eating difficulties with the goal of bringing enjoyment for her at mealtimes, giving her back her mealtime independence, preventing malnutrition and improving her quality of life.

    The assessment tool provided me with a list of suggested interventions of which I chose several to trial with Mum including:

    • Decluttering the mealtime environment to reduce confusion levels.
    • Reducing noise levels resulting in a calmer setting which improved her nutrition
    • Introducing adapted crockery and cutlery to help her regain eating independence
    • Eating with her to make mealtimes more social occasions

    Mum’s transformation was miraculous! Within weeks, Mum was back to eating completely independently, enjoying her meals and gaining weight.

    The care professionals couldn’t believe her transformation and her end-of-life care nurse, Sally, stopped her visits saying ‘you don’t need my help anymore!’

    Having seen Mum’s transformation, I wanted to share my learnings with others, who were caring for people with dementia, to enable them to also experience more positive and dignified mealtimes and improved nutrition.

    And so Mum provided me with the inspiration to write my guide, as a free resource, with one aim – to help people with dementia achieve the most dignified, independent and delicious dining experience possible.

    I had walked a mile in the shoes of those who care for people with dementia. I had faced their challenges, and I had been able to overcome them and I wanted to share the strategies which had worked for us.

    I wanted to empower care managers and their teams and family members caring for people living with dementia to understand they CAN make a big difference in the way they support their people to lead to improved engagement, enjoyment at mealtimes

    I wanted them to really think about how their dining experience made their residents feel by putting themselves in their shoes.

    Would their dining experience pass the ‘Mum’ test - would it be good enough for their loved ones? And if not why should it be good enough for anyone else?

    My guide is designed for busy care managers, combining solutions to common mealtime challenges, packed with best practice guidance and tips to improve the dementia mealtime experience and ideas of product solutions that are available to be enabling for people with dementia. All from one trusted source, to save them valuable time.

    My guide launched in 2017 and was requested and distributed to many different care professionals and types of organisations, more than I could have imagined:

    OT’s, care home managers, local authorities, care trainers, CQC inspectors, SALT teams, dietitians, care quality consultants, care catering specialists, end of life nurses, home care companies are just some of the people who have had copies and have fed back what a valuable resource it has been.

    Following feedback from a senior dietitian within the BDA, who highly rated it and helped me with areas to improve, I updated it in 2018 and very much see it as an evolving resource as I learn more and more research is done.

    In 2018, I delivered ‘The Dementia Mealtime Challenge’, an interactive workshop I created based on my guide, at the National Association of Care Catering annual training and development forum. Several people who were present, have since come back to say thank you we have implemented all the suggestions from your workshop!

    This is now available as a workshop for teams in care homes who are serious about looking at ways to improve their mealtime experience.

    2019 saw me start my first consultancy project after an outstanding care provider approached me to work with them on a project to further improve their already excellent mealtime experience. This led to me developing a range of services to offer care homes including:

    • Mealtime observational audits
    • Enabling independence at mealtimes assessments for individuals
    • Creating enabling dining environment audits for people living with dementia
    • Mealtime equipment audit
    • Partnership working with care teams on improvement plans and implementation.
    • Retained support to measure continuous improvement.

    I am passionate about helping people and sharing my knowledge, and with my own experience and care sector background would love to work with more care homes to help them too.

     

    I am thrilled to be speaking in the Dementia Theatre at the Care and Dementia show, and also to be providing a further sensory learning experience and a fun competition with great prizes we are offering if you come and see us on our stand at the show.

     

     

    Download your own copy of our Dignified Dining Solution Guide below or visit our website at www.hcsuk.co.uk.

    Many people have asked me, ‘how much is your guide?’ and they are delighted when I tell them it’s free and I call it my little gift to the universe.’

     

  • How To Prepare Great Looking Rice And Pasta Dishes For Dysphagia Diets

    We are very excited to be able to offer you 2 new additions to our already extensive range of silicone food moulds which are designed to help you to significantly improve the presentation of pureed meals for the people you support with dysphagia.

    You can now add rice to your curry and pasta to your bolognese to increase the range of dishes and meals you are able to prepare, but given the consistency of these food types, what are the top tips and secrets to making visually appealing rice and pasta dishes?

    This is a question we have been asked recently, and we always like to provide helpful and informative answers to customers questions.

    Rice and pasta moulds - The key to being able to get good results with these two shapes is selecting the right thickener and the type of product used.

    For example, with rice, there is a bit of food chemistry involved and knowing the ratio of two main starches, i.e. amylose and amylopectin.

    Here is a little food chemistry to put you to sleep……

    Amylose is a long, straight starch molecule that does not gelatinize during cooking. Grains with high amounts of amylose will be fully and separated once cooked. Long grain rice typically has high amounts of amylose (about 22%) and the least amount of amylopectin (ex. long-grain varieties, Basmati and Jasmine).

    Amylopectin is a highly branched starch molecule that is responsible for making rice gelatinous and sticky. Rice with a high amount of amylopectin will be very sticky once cooked. Short grain rice typically contains the lowest levels of amylose and the highest of amylopectin (ex., short-grain, Asian-style types of rice).

    So, with all that said, it is best to use long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine.

    Click here to view our full range of silicone food moulds including the rice and pasta moulds

    The Next Thing To Consider Is Which Thickener Should I Use?

    Our manufacturers believe that using an Agar Agar based thickener or potentially gelatine is the way to go to get the best results.

    In case you are unaware of Agar Agar thickener, it usually requires you to heat to a certain temperature to activate its gelling properties.

    So, here is a basic method for you, of what the manufacturers have done to get the best results:

    1. Add equal portions of cooked rice (long grain) or pasta and liquid (stock) to the blender N.B. Be sure to rinse and drain uncooked rice well to remove excess starch before cooking.
    2. Blend until pureed
    3. Add Agar Agar thickener and blend again
    4. Transfer contents to saucepan
    5. Heat mixture to ~ 90C to 'activate' the thickener
    6. Transfer mixture to mould cavities and cover
    7. All to cool in the fridge or otherwise freeze
    8. Heat moulded meal as per normal routine

    NB. If you are supporting people with dysphagia, please always refer to a Speech and Language Therapist for professional advice on suitable meal choices and suitable consistencies to avoid the risk of choking.

    Watch the video on how to prepare pureed rice here.

     

     

     

     

    If you would like more ideas of how to achieve greater meal variety for the people you support with dysphagia, you might like this article we previously wrote.

     

    Helping you create more varied meals for people you support living with dysphagia

     

     

    You can also download your free copy of our dignified dining guide here for more hints and tips on improving meal presentation and managing dysphagia.

  • Introducing Our New Company Brand Video

    Recently we shot a company video to capture the essence of Hcsuk and our amazing team - the passion and the care and attention we take, and the pride we all have in the quality of our work and the outcomes we help our customers achieve.

    We are immensely proud of our 32-year business journey working in partnership with care homes providing them with fit for purpose product solutions, servicing their equipment, helping to train their teams and to make continuous improvements. Also, how we help those who care for loves ones at home to stay safe, independent and comfortable.

    We are blessed to have a fantastically committed team who repeatedly go the extra mile to ensure our customers receive what they need when they need it, and always with a smile. ?

    We love the fact that what we do makes a difference in peoples’ lives every day.

    We hope you will enjoy watching and seeing some of our faces behind the voices, and our unsung heroes who work tirelessly behind the scenes to enable us to offer a fantastic customer experience.

    And hearing first hand what Anita, a customer of ours for over 30 years has to say about us too!

    Watch the video here

    Our Team Is Here To Help You!

    If you would like any further information on any of our services mentioned in our video, contact us here!

    Get in touch

     

  • Why Oral Care Needs To Be Given Greater Priority In Care Homes

    We carried out a recent poll to help us understand the challenges care managers are facing to achieving good oral care in care homes, and the results are in!

    • 43% of people who responded stated that ‘staff don’t see it as a priority
    • 30% put it down to a lack of guidance and training
    • 17% said staff fear personal harm
    • 9% stated there was a lack of fit-for-purpose tools

    CQC now heavily promote the importance of oral care in care homes, which includes mandatory training and forming part of the effective and responsive KLOE’s

    Here, Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) talks about the importance of oral health:

    “Oral health has a huge impact on our quality of life and we need professionals across a number of sectors to make changes to ensure it is given the priority it needs in care home settings.

    “Oral health cannot be treated as an afterthought. It can make the difference between someone who is free from pain, enjoys eating and is able to confidently express themselves through talking and smiling – and someone who is in pain, unable to enjoy their food and who covers their mouth with their hand when they smile because they are ashamed of their poor oral hygiene but unable to address it themselves. No one should have to live like that.”

    And yet there still seems to be a huge gap between where we are and where we need to be on understanding the huge impact oral health has on overall health.

    Did you know that the state of your teeth affects your overall health, with gum disease linked to lots of serious health problems in other parts of the body?

    Therefore, brushing your teeth regularly to remove plaque can prevent gum disease and improve your overall health.

    Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, explains: "The link between oral health and overall body health is well documented and backed by robust scientific evidence. Despite this, only 1 in 6 people realises that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke or diabetes. And only 1 in 3 is aware of the heart disease link."

    Gum disease may increase your risk of all kinds of other health complications, including stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Gum disease has even been linked with problems in pregnancy and dementia.

    So why is good oral care so important?

    In a two-part BBC series, Dr Christoffer Van Tulleken, carried out an experiment where he didn’t brush his teeth for 2 weeks, to demonstrate the implications of poor dental hygiene.

    Dr Tulleken commented: ‘At the end of this time, I brushed my teeth and my gums bled; I had developed mild gum disease - an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It's mainly caused by bacteria from plaque build-up on all hard surfaces of the mouth due to lack of oral hygiene. Carry on like this and not treat the problem and I could lose some teeth.’

    Further tests showed that he had also damaged his immune system - In some people who are susceptible to gum disease, the body over-reacts to the bacteria around the gums and causes too much inflammation. In others, the inflammation doesn't clear up. The result of the intense gum inflammation is that it also affects the bloodstream, and is believed to slowly damage blood vessels in the heart and brain over a long period of time. And there is mounting evidence that shows an association between poor oral hygiene and a wide variety of illnesses including:

    • Dementia
    • Pneumonia,
    • Diabetes, and its control
    • Kidney disease
    • Heart disease and heart attacks
    • Stroke
    • Rheumatoid arthritis

    ‘Gum disease isn't just bad for your teeth; it shortens your life - simple as that. So, looking after your teeth is one of the most important health interventions you can make’ he concluded.

    How do you think you would feel if you were unable to brush your teeth for 2 weeks?

    What do you think the implications to your health and wellbeing would be?

    • Inadequate oral care can be detrimental to social and emotional well-being – people become very conscious of not having a fresh mouth and can withdraw socially.
    • Any untreated oral pain can make chewing difficult and uncomfortable and therefore impact adequate levels of nutrition and hydration for weight maintenance

    However, a good oral care regime can help to:-

    • Keep residents as comfortable as possible in palliative and end-of-life care
    • Prevent dental decay and gum disease

    We need to work together to help build knowledge and understanding of the implications of poor oral hygiene and why it needs to be made a priority.

    Why not download a copy of our free Oral Care Guide? And you can check out our comprehensive range of fit-for-purpose oral care product solutions here too.Oral Hygiene Management Guide Long CTA

    We have additional great articles relating to oral care that you may find a worthwhile read! Find them here.

     

    How can I improve oral care for my residents living with dementia?

    What are the safe alternatives to banned pink mouth foam swabs?

    CQC calls for improvements in oral health in care homes

  • 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 safely.to 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:

    Breakfast:

    • 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

    Testimonial

    "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

  • 6 Ways In Which Brightly Coloured Melamine Crockery Provides A Dignified Dining Experience For People Living With Dementia

    Helping You Make Informed Buying Decisions

    melamime crockery

    Research has proven that the use of brightly coloured dinnerware helps stimulate appetite for people with dementia and reduced visual perception.

    Trials in hospital elderly care wards found that when yellow or blue plates were introduced replacing white plates, over 25% reduction in food waste was sent back to the kitchen.

    Continue reading

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