COVID19 has forced care homes, and the entire 3rd sector, to work very differently and has thrown up many challenges over the past 18 months…
Despite the principles of care we have developed and learned over years, we have put many of these to one side in order to protect staff, residents and the wider community. This protection has been vitally important, but in many cases it has been done with full focus on the pandemic and very little or no focus on the resulting effects on those in care.
We believe it is vital that important care principles are not forgotten. We also believe some imagination and problem solving around how services are provided could and does achieve both objectives.
Protected meal times are periods where eating and drinking are the focus. During these times, people are able to eat and drink in a clean, quiet and safe environment. Non-essential interruptions are limited, to allow staff to provide assistance and encouragement.
It may seem like the focus here is providing a nicer environment to dine, however it achieves much more. ..
Nutrition is the key to improving, controlling, or mitigating from disease, and physical and mental ailments. Although Protected Mealtimes have not shown to improve nutritional intake directly, they are shown to allow/encourage residents and those in care to enjoy their food with more chance of meal completion, which does have a direct effect on nutritional intake.
Some of the principles set out by NHS Scotland to follow during meal times are:
- Safe staffing levels
- Minimise non-essential interruptions
- Ensure food and drink is within easy reach
- Provide assistance where required (open packets, cut up food, pour drinks)
- Support people to eat and drink where required
- Family, friends and volunteers may assist if this will encourage food and fluid intake and is safe to do so
- Provide positive encouragement to increase food and fluid intake
- Allow sufficient time for food and drink to be enjoyed
Our Mealtime Observations
As an organisation, Cedar Revive regularly completes mealtime observations at our client’s care homes and upon request from others looking for guidance. In some recently completed a mealtime observations we found that due to the COVID rules, the core principles of the protected mealtime had been affected; the important care service was being affected negatively. We found residents, at times, eating in unsuitable areas with distracting or unsuitable traffic around them, including corridors and isolated in their own rooms…
We need to ensure that these principles remain in place and their importance highlighted. With the restrictions that COVID brings, we need to work the service around to maintain the respect and dignity of the resident’s mealtime whilst keeping them safe.
The key point to remember is residents enjoy and look forward to mealtimes. These times should be fun times. It has been very difficult during shutdowns when families and loved ones have not been able to meet and have social interaction, which is so important to everyone young and old. We as caterers have had a very important role when providing new dishes on the menu while maintaining nutritional guidelines. Catering trends have changed and just because your old and in a care home, these points are just as valid. So we at CedarRevive are very aware when planning menus. The introduction of themed days is also important and maintained in our menu planning.
If you require assistance or guidance with solutions to COVID rules in order to maintain a high level of service to residents, contact our team today and we’d be happy to chat.
: careinspectorate.com – Principles of Protected Mealtimes