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Blogs / 20.10.2021

What’s on the Menu? Serving Up a Superior Senior Dining Experience…

Compass Healthcare currently serve around 5000 meals across 150 care environments up and down the country every day. But make no mistake, nourishing our distinguished senior community is no walk in the park.

Thankfully, we’ve picked up a thing or two over the years. Here’s a glimpse into what it takes to provide world-class food services to the UK Care Sector…

1. Every Resident Is UNIQUE

The longer we live, the larger the impact that nourishment and hydration can have on the quality of our lives. Dietetics (how nutrition affects our health) plays a central role in what and how we serve each Resident: “one size fits all” really isn’t an option here…

Studies show that the ability to digest, absorb and metabolise nutrients changes with age. Our sense of taste and smell can also alter over time, which can affect things like a Resident’s appetite or enjoyment of food[1]. Medical conditions and drug-nutrient interactions play a big part in the dietary requirements of each individual and not to mention, these are perhaps our most discerning customers; Residents tend to know what they do/don’t like!

What this means in practice, is that we have to uncover every Resident’s needs and preferences. We do this through our ‘Personal Food Passport,’ a document that helps us to build a unique profile of every customer we serve, detailing factors such as special diets, preferred food and drink texture modified in line with IDDSI guidelines, right down to whether a Resident prefers sugar or sweetener in their tea. You can read more about it here .

2. All Care Homes are the same right? Wrong.

The Care Sector is incredibly diverse, and as such, it’s important to recognise the differences that each sub-sector brings to the table. Specialist environments, such as Dementia Care, call for a completely different approach to care and food service to that of Residential Housing. Furthermore, accommodation can be provided by private companies, local councils or voluntary organisations, bringing commercial considerations squarely into the mix.

Whatever the environment, we’re able to dip into an industry-leading pool of solutions before tailoring each to fit.   

3. Expertise in all the right places

Compass Healthcare work collaboratively with many respected industry specialists, from Age UK to The Patients Association when developing new food concepts, initiatives and resources. But it’s the strength of our in-house team that puts us at the forefront of the senior dining experience...

We’re able to tap into the knowledge of our very own Registered Dietitians, led by Registered Dietitian, Helen Ream, who benefits from over 20 years of experience working within both the NHS and private sector.

Additionally, an extensive network - the largest in the UK - of culinary talent is always on hand to keep menu’s fresh and enticing, reinforced by a dedicated food development team working out of our very own Innovation Centre in Chertsey in Surrey.

We recently announced the success of two of our incredible chefs, Darren Passmore from Medirest Signature, and Stowell Jernimain Barry from White Oaks, our Care Sector business, who have both secured a place on landmark culinary programme in collaboration with esteemed chef Marcus Wareing. ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ is an enhanced programme which runs alongside a Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef or Level 5 Operations Departmental Manager apprenticeship standard delivered in partnership with national hospitality training provider, HIT Training.

Beyond the food, our clients in the care sector can tap into the wealth of knowledge held by our dedicated Health & Wellbeing, HSE, Business Excellence and Commercial colleagues.

4. Commercial Assurance

We know all too well that the financial pressure associated with the Covid crisis is generating a need to realise cost reductions across the sector. But how can you maintain the same, if not a higher level of service, at a lower cost? Through Foodbuy.

Foodbuy is a sister company of Compass Healthcare, and both brands operate under the Compass Group UK&I banner. Foodbuy leverage their purchasing scale - over £1bn per annum - to procure both food and non-food related items below market cost.

To put it simply, Compass Healthcare can purchase locally sourced ingredients at a reduced rate and pass the savings on to our customers in the care sector.

You can learn even more about how we manage costs in a care environment here.  

5. You’ve got to keep things interesting

The Senior Dining experience is perhaps one of the most nuanced of any age demographic.

You’ve got the environment to consider; how we can create welcoming and attractive areas that encourage Residents to dine with us? How do we build daily menus that appeal to many, but also consider every individual’s unique dining preference? What about allergens? Medical, physical and mental considerations?

Whilst it’s commonplace to focus on the areas above, we can’t forget that our Residents are just as discerning as any other diners, and it’s our job to keep things fresh.

Themed menus, pop-ups, events, dinner dances (who doesn’t like getting dressed up) go down a storm by creating intrigue and excitement that goes further than your typical food service.

They help to create connections between Residents, establishing communities that unite through a passion for memorable food experiences. 

To learn more about the services White Oaks provide in the UK Care Home Sector, get in touch with Cristel Worth, our Head of Partnerships, on +44 (0)1822 813802 or via email at


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