The Catering Team at Park Avenue Care Home in Bromley are responsible for the wholesome and varied meals that residents eat every day. They also work hard to support the Lifestyle Coordinators with cooking activities, regularly baking cakes and sharing recipe tips to help the residents.
This week, the catering team were learning new things at their third session of Dining Experience training. This type of training is new to the Excelcare group and focusses on the way that food is presented and how to engage with residents during mealtimes. The aim is to ensure that mealtimes are a sociable and enjoyable time for all, so this training highlights the small things that team members can do to make mealtimes a more comfortable experience for everyone.
The initial course covered four key areas of dining experience; presentation on a plate, how to make mealtimes person-centred, how to engage with residents during mealtimes and the importance of choice at mealtimes. This gave all team members a deeper understanding of the things they can do keep people who dislike mealtimes at ease and the differences that presentation can make. Colours, textures and way food is placed on a plate can play a big part, as people are more likely to eat their meals if the food on the plate looks appealing.
Future training sessions will include topics that cover plate size, to ensure people aren’t put off with a large portion on a big plate. Making sure the portion size is correct for the person and served on the right size plate, decreases the chances of people feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
The latest training session was a follow-up from the original course and covered specific presentation techniques as well as some top tips for things that can be more tricky to serve, whilst making sure they look nice when plated.
The session started with team members being shown a presentation technique called the ‘Quenelle’. This specifically refers to food that has a malleable consistency such as mash potato, ice cream or pâté. If done correctly, it creates an oval shape on the plate, making the food look attractive and much more likely to hold. Team members were shown the correct way to do this and had some time to practice. Before long, they had mastered it and people commented on how much neater and more appealing the plate of food looked. A top tip that was shared during the tutorial of this technique was to put a layer of cling film on the spoon before scooping the mash, as this ensures it doesn’t stick and gives you a much neater finish on the plate.
The food at Park Avenue has always tasted good, but this training has helped and will continue to ensure that all meals look good too, with much more thought going into the mealtime experience as a whole.
We look forward to seeing the results of this new training and a more consistently positive dining experience for all!