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Care Home Guidelines

A new set of guidelines have been published in a bid to see better food served to older people.

The advice contains information on ingredients such as fruit and vegetables under a move to ensure people are getting the right nutrition from their food.  The guidelines also break down the number of calories that each meal should contain.  The advice has been issued in a bid to nutritionally standardise meals for older people at a time when research shows hundreds of thousands are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

The guidelines were published by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), which represents companies and professionals supplying meals to local authority care homes, people’s own homes and day centres.

Overall, the guidelines say that each meal served at lunch or dinner-time should contain a minimum of:

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  • 300 calories
  • 15g of protein
  • A good source of starch
  • A minimum of an 80g serving of vegetables
  • Desserts other than fruit should provide at least 200 calories
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The guidelines also specify that:

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  • Breakfast should carry a minimum of 380 calories and 8g of protein.
  • Five portions of fruit and vegetables should be available each day
  • A minimum of seven drinks per day should be served
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The nutritional standard also calls on caterers to take account of special dietary needs, such as providing soft food that is easy to eat, and to take account of medical conditions which require special diets.

Derek Johnson, NACC chairman, said: ‘The nutrition standard will ensure consistency in the nutritional content of food provided throughout the care catering sector.  ‘It is however still vital that Government support this standard and are committed to providing care for the elderly, not only allowing them a real choice in care services, but also saving the NHS money in the years to come.’

Dr Mike Stroud, chairman of the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (Bapen), said: ‘It is important that initiatives helping to ensure older people have adequate nutrition continue to be supported.’  Data from Bapen has shown that 40% of all patients admitted to hospital are already malnourished when they go in.  Malnutrition in care homes is estimated to range from 30% to 42% of all residents.