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Helping care home residents with swallowing difficulties

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At Strangford Court Care Home in Downpatrick there has been a new development in food preparation that has enriched the mealtime experience for their residents with swallowing difficulties.

At Strangford Court Care Home in Downpatrick there has been a new development in food preparation that has enriched the mealtime experience for their residents with swallowing difficulties.

Strangford Court is a 39-bed dual registered home that accommodates older people with mental health problems and residents with a diagnosed learning disability.

As part of the illness pathway some of the residents have deficits in their ability to swallow normally. Traditionally, food presentation for this client group has been a challenge for the cook, and many pureed meals have tended to appear bland, dull and unadventurous.

The catering staff at Strangford Court, lead by Eithne Mooney, understand that we first 'taste? our meals through our visual perception. She places a high value on the presentation of the food as an integral part of the eating experience.

Strangford Court offers their residents nutritious food at the right consistency, which is also attractive and appealing. Eithne uses the 'Thick n Easy? system for pureed foods, which has meant that residents who require a pureed diet can eat a meal that looks similar to a normal dish.

Eithne does this by using Thick n Easy in the pureed food, which allows the food to retain its moulded shape and prevents fluid separation. She then uses the moulded system and moulds the pureed food into a shape.

Now the residents at Strangford Court can enjoy foods such as an 'Ulster Fry?. Eithne also moulds meats such as fish and steak and also a variety of vegetables and fruits. She can also use the Thick n Easy as a soaking solution on breads and cakes.

One of the residents at Strangford Court has now gained weight since being provided with the moulded meals. The care assistants say that the resident loves the fact that she can look at her plate and see what she is eating, rather than trying to guess what everything is.

The home manager Sinead is very supportive of Eithne and they both aim to provide their residents with nutritious and attractive food that doesn?t make them feel different to everyone else in the home. As a result the residents are happy and able to eat their meals in a dignified way.

Sinead has received great feedback from staff, relatives and members of the multi-professional team and is convinced that it is one of the most successful innovations that they have undertaken at Strangford Court.

Wendy Megarrell is a training and operations support manager at Four Seasons Health Care. Email wendy.megarrell@fshc.co.uk

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