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You probably didn’t forget to eat or drink today. But it’s easy for a vulnerable person to forget to nourish or hydrate themselves properly, or to need help to do it. A recent report found that care home residents were more likely to be dehydrated when they entered hospital. This is unacceptable for MHA and we have clear policies about good nutrition and hydration. And this is definitely a relevant topic, as it’s now Nutrition and Hydration Week.

I want to stress that eating and drinking should be a pleasure. Care homes should have menus that not only provide all the right nutrients but are enjoyable; cakes on birthdays and anniversaries, Sunday roasts, pancakes on Shrove Tuesdays, having kitchens take the trouble to find out residents’ favourite dishes and prepare them specially.

And taking extra time and care for specific needs. Many residents have conditions that affect swallowing and require food that matches the National Dysphagia Diet Food Texture Descriptors. So I’m currently heading an initiative within MHA whereby our chefs and kitchen staff are experimenting with presenting these foods attractively on the plate. Our chefs are creative –we’ve had pureed broccoli forming the leafy tops of carrots, and dots of cream to make the seeds in pureed strawberries. Sometimes residents struggle with their appetites, but having attractively presented food definitely helps. The first bite is with the eye!

Eating and drinking well helps physical and mental wellbeing and I think it’s good for spiritual wellbeing too. (Why else do so many faiths have so many rituals and celebrations involving food and breaking bread together?) I encourage everyone to use Nutrition and Hydration Week to learn more about eating, drinking and being merry. It’s what our residents deserve.

Have a look at http://nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk/ to find out more.

 

George Sampson

Head of Hospitality

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