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Hotel Style Service in an Aged Care Environment

A statement that not that long ago would have seemed a bit far-fetched, and out of range for most facilities. But now there are people determined to share their wealth of experience to help create an even playing field and offer assistance to those that see the benefit.

Food and food service has always been emphasised as an important feature with facilities, but there has been little help or advice available to help improve and provide a point of difference, until now.

Pride and the want to succeed stems from the ability to upskill the staff to a point that they take ownership of the food service.

From the time the food arrives to a facility, to it being prepared, to it being plated, to the time the plate is cleared from a table is important. If any one of those links is broken and not performed properly, the result is a poor meal. If you have a lovely meal that is poorly presented, then all that effort is lost.

The menu is such an important part of the day and needs careful consideration when being created. Taking into consideration the nutritional requirements of the residents is important. Too often menus are devised and residents requiring modified or certain meals are left as an after thought.

soft dessert



One group of residents that seem to be put into this category are those on Puree meals. Most kitchen’s lack the confidence or training to provide the variety of food possible. Instead, preferring to play safe. There are a number of reasons people are on puree meals with the key consideration being swallowing difficulties, and choking if food is of the wrong texture. Various techniques can be applied so that the same or similar food prepared for a standard meal can be made into a puree meal. What is also important is that you have the correct equipment to puree the food correctly and this is where a Robocoup with a rubber scraper inside the bowl is preferred.

People on puree meals generally are more fragile and require more of our attention to provide the nutritional benefits from the food offered. If you have compassion and an understanding for the people on puree meals, you will strive to ensure the food is the very best it can be.

puree meals

For those that are able, if you have people on puree meals sitting amongst those on a standard meal,  it shows a level of respect and giving the person the means to still feel independent. Especially if the food smells and tastes great and looks like normal food rather than scoops in a bowl.

Key points to remember

  • Morning and afternoon teas where possible should be the same so there is a constant variety on offer. Scone for standard can be made into a puree scone by simply adding cream and milk and puree to a scoop consistency.
  • A standard roast beef meal can be pureed as individual components. With care and presentation in mind, you can create a beautiful meal. To help in the appeal and look of the meal, moulds can be used so that food can be made to resemble the actual food. The potato would be moulied and then moulded or piped into any number of shapes.
  • A lot of desserts can also be pureed for the same reason to add variety. Apple shortcake can be pureed with apple juice, cream or milk to the consistency desired.
  • Puree food needs to stand on its own on a plate, not run across it or the juices leech out of the vegetables. Casseroles and stews I would recommend straining some of the gravy out so that when it is pureed it is not too thin. You can then pour this gravy back into the meat to reach the right consistency.

Though this article appears aimed at Resthome residents, the same can apply to those that support family in a home environment. As long as you have the correct equipment to ensure a puree texture of food is met. If you do not,I suggest sourcing a supply of puree food that can be stored in the freezer until needed.

For further details see the Terence Austin’s Eldernet listing.


About Terence Austin

Terence Austin
Terence Austin is a London City and Guilds-trained executive chef and has owned restaurants and function centres in New Zealand. Eight years ago, a visit to his grandfather in a retirement village prompted him to move into the retirement sector with the aim of improving the food offering. He is now a consultant, helping facilities to improve their food and food service.

One comment

  1. jess

    Great stuff, really interesting reading about this and encouraging to hear that those on this type of restricted diet are being thought about and cared for. Also great that chefs are getting up skilled to better cater for those in rest homes on this diet.