Food And Drink
Mary Goudge is an experienced matron/manager who worked in several nursing homes herself before moving on to work as a management consultant in a firm specialising in nursing homes.
All homes set their meal times for the benefit of the residents. Because of this meal times vary from home to home. Generally speaking breakfast is usually served between 8 and 9am. Lunch between 12.30 and 1pm and ‘high tea’ or dinner between 5 and 6.30pm.
Coffee, tea or other drinks and a biscuit are served about 10.30-1 lam and afternoon tea about 3pm.
Night drinks such as hot chocolate, horlicks, tea, milk, etc are usually brought round by the night nurses about 8.30-9.30pm. If a resident wants a hot drink during the night hours they only have to ring the call bell and a member of staff will make one for them.
Where are meals served?
In some homes, particularly residential care homes, breakfast is served in the dining area but in other homes it is served in residents’ rooms.
In homes where breakfast is served in the dining room residents can usually choose where they prefer to eat the first meal of the day, either in their rooms or in the dining area, depending on the their health.
Lunch and high tea (or dinner) are usually served in the dining room or the dining area of the lounge for those residents who are able to be brought to the table.
For residents who are sick meals are served to them in their rooms.
Some residents prefer to have all their meals served in the lounge, others wish to remain in their room all the time including meals times. Whilst this is not forbidden it is generally discouraged, because the resident:
- doesn’t get the chance to make friends
- tends to withdraw from activities because they don’t know other residents
- can become introverted
- can become isolated
- can become depressed.
Elevenses and afternoon tea are served to the residents wherever they happen to be in the home at the time (except the bathroom or toilet).
A community spirit, friendship and chatting between the residents is encouraged particularly at meal times.
Eating a meal
Some residents are physically incapable of feeding themselves and will be fed, or helped to feed themselves, by care staff.
Blind residents are helped if the food is served onto their plate in a pattern, such as a clock. The resident is asked to imagine the plate as if it were a clock. Potatoes might be served on the plate at the 12 o’clock position; meat/fish served on the plate at the 6 o’clock position; the first vegetable, eg broccoli might be placed on the plate at 3 o’clock position, the second vegetable, eg carrots, at the 9 o’clock position, sauces or condiments at the 7 o’clock position.
If the blind resident is told clearly and understands where the different foods, eg vegetables or meat have been placed (in relation to a clock face numerals) they will probably be able to feed themselves with little or no help within a short period of time. See Figure 8.
MEALS AND REFRESHMENTS FOR VISITORS
Most homes will offer visitors a cup of tea or coffee if they are with their relative at the appropriate time. This is usually free of charge but if you ask for a tray of tea or coffee a charge may be made.
If you wish to have a meal with your relative you would need to ask as soon as you arrive or preferably by phone the day before. In some homes they do not charge for the meal but others add a charge to the resident’s account.
It makes sense to keep a record of all meals and refreshments you are given in case a mistake is made and you are charged for something you have not had.
SWEETS, CHOCOLATE AND BISCUITS
Biscuits usually accompany morning and afternoon tea or coffee but you are generally allowed to take in extra biscuits as well as sweets, chocolate, fruit, squash, etc for the resident to keep in their room. Before you do, check with staff regarding your relative’s diet and if there are any restrictions on what you may take in for them.
It’s a good idea to take in a fruit bowl and suitable receptacles for sweets and biscuits marked with your relative’s name to keep their goodies in.
Special diets are ordered by doctors or consultants for people with certain medical complaints. These people need a diet that will do them no harm and will enable them, in most cases, to live a reasonably normal life. For instance, residents suffering from diabetes need a diet which maintains the balance of their blood sugar and insulin levels. This particular diet is one where the person can maintain the correct sugar intake by an exchange system rather than a set daily menu. Leaflets explaining this system are usually found at the diabetic clinic or the doctor’s surgery.
Other residents may need a low fat or low salt diet to prevent deterioration.
Your relative may be a person who suffers from one or more food allergies. Common causes of allergies are strawberries and shellfish but dairy foods and nuts as well as many other foods can produce an allergic reaction. For some, peanuts or anything containing peanuts or even a smear of peanut oil is lethal.
Residents with any kind of food allergy must have a diet which excludes the foods or ingredients which cause the problem.
The chef will be well aware of diets and allergies and will produce any special diets required by residents who need them for their well being.
Please inform the matron of any:
- special diets
- allergies to certain foods
- allergy to any medications, wasp, bee or other insect stings
- allergy to elastoplast or dressings, etc
in order that all staff including the chef can be informed and are aware of the problem.
Doctors are concerned for people and particularly residents who are obese.
People who are overweight are prone to diabetes, heart attack, coronary disease and many other problems.
Unfortunately, the more obese a person becomes the more difficult it becomes to exercise (walking, swimming, etc). Due to their medical condition nursing home residents do not have as much opportunity to exercise as those in residential care homes or their own homes.
Doctors will ask for obese residents to be given a weight reducing diet until their weight falls to an acceptable level.
Unfortunately, many moderately obese residents do not accept they have a weight problem and fail to co-operate with the doctor or the staff in this matter. Some ask their friends and relatives to bring them sweets and biscuits which allows them to continue to have high calorific snacks between meals. This prevents weight loss and means they have to continue with a weight reducing diet when everybody else is having normal food.
If your relative needs a special diet of any kind, please discuss the matter with the matron and ask what delicacies, if any, you would be allowed to bring in for them.