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We are proud to announce the start of a new project with consultant Iain Clague from Complete Nutritional Care to observe, review and innovate the approach to food and nutrition in our Supported Living sector in social care.

Iain began by meeting our various Supported Living houses (Covid Risk Assessed of course!) in October to see what food is being prepared and eaten and meet the individual people we support. Iain’s knowledge and experience as a Social Care Consultant and Trainer specialising in Care Management, Kitchen Management, Catering Provision, and the Dining Experience spans so many aspects of our work to help us address the issue of food and nutrition as central and integral part of delivering person centred care to our vulnerable adults across Surrey and Sutton.

Iain looked at individual care plans, their current eating habits and tastes; and has so far confirmed what we already suspected, that so much more can be done to improve food, nutrition and hydration to improve quality of life and health in Supported Living.

Our team leaders and support workers do their best to make sure that food and nutrition is of a good quality, but of course the knowledge and ability varies so much amongst the staff team of around 45 people. We must remember that in supported living, we do not have dedicated ancillary staff such as cooks, housekeepers nor do we have nurses. The support workers support individuals with all aspects of daily living. Our regulator the CQC is rightly ensuring that choice is provided to our clients, and we have so far demonstrated this is fulfilled to a good standard. However we believe strongly that Strada Care and social care as a whole can take the approach to food, and by this we mean food that tastes good and is appetising; and nutrition, to a much higher level that really improves lives.

We shall be providing staff with a benchmark level of cooking training and menu reviews, with specialist advice from Iain and of course collaboration with our community dieticians and other healthcare professionals.

Good nutrition can significantly boost Immune System Health

Never has the importance of the immune system been so important in modern times, than right now in the midst of a second wave of Coronavirus in this pandemic, and nutrition is one of the single biggest factors determining its ability to fight off infection. And we now enter the cold and flu season too, so ingredients must feature the right levels of vitamins, minerals, hydration and electrolytes to ensure that body can perform at its best. We have already focussed on Vitamin D, and will discuss that point in a separate article soon, and we have already received prescriptions from GPs to provide a Vitamin D supplement which we have established is key in the battle to optimise the immune system against infections including Coronavirus, having researched various studies on the subject.

Gut Health can improve mental and physical wellbeing

We shall also be focussing on related subjects such as gut health, which people are steadily realising can have a huge impact on mental and physical wellbeing. These topics are generally misunderstood in society in general, and sadly they are even more overlooked in social care. Strada Care is passionate about changing this, and improving wellbeing and health.

Procuring from local and independent shops, and Growing our own food at home

Once the Covid pandemic and associated lockdowns come to an end, we are excited about shifting how our clients procure their food. We ha

ve bold plans to support them wherever possible to shop local, and even grow their own food. We see the huge potential benefits in switching from the impersonal experience of shopping in supermarkets towards the local independent shops including the green grocer, the butcher, the fishmonger and the bakery. In so doing we have the opportunity to enhance community involvement and social interaction, sensory stimulation with various environmental factors such as smells and visual. We shall be giving them a more active and interactive role in the society, and arguably better produce for their food in the process. The l

ocal community will no doubt benefit as a whole. All of our sites are lucky enough to have a garden where people can grow their own food, and Weavers in Merstham has the luxury of fantastic grounds, a sensory garden and even access to a large polytunnel and greenhouses. We shall certainly be tapping into the knowledge of our staff with ‘green fingers’ to support and inspire this meaningful, rewarding and ‘sensory-packed’ activity to our clients wherever possible.

We are excited about this new project with Iain, and hope to report on our findings, ideas and results over the coming months.