We have been very proud over the years to be bestowed several awards for the food at The Close.  Our catering team are constantly evolving and pushing the standards for meal times in the home. One of the areas we are striving to lead not just in the home but across the sector is texture modified foods.

In 2019 the international dysphagia standardisation initiative or “IDDSI” for short was launched around the world. This has formally transitioned from the UK National Standardised terminology and definitions for texture modified foods and thickened liquids to IDDSI definitions giving us a much better description, guidelines, and auditing capability to make sure that meals were at the correct thickness and consistency every time. That’s the clinical basis, we wanted to take this further to our ethos of quality and everybody should be entitled to the same dignity and respect. We saw issues where residents with IDDSI requirements were served the same/similar meal daily whereas residents without needs had a full and varied menu. Our co challenge was to offer that equality of choice to all residents at all mealtimes.

Before IDDSI was introduced we had started pureeing items, thickening then freezing into moulds but with new guidance this didn’t pass the auditing.  We had to start again from scratch, We learnt so much so fast, frozen vegetables work fantastic for IDDSI puree, take a fresh green bean, cook until pureed and smooth. It will be grey in colour, tasteless with hardly any nutrients. Take frozen green beans picked and frozen within 6 hours before freezing is so much fresher than fresh vegetables, leave over night to defrost, the cells have broken down by ice forming during freezing so soft already. We only cook for seconds and puree down to a smooth consistency retaining the nutrients. Pasta can’t be pureed because of high starch levels but semolina is a perfect substitute and flavour match.

Not all foods need to be a puree consistency, a level of IDDSI is defined as minced & moist can be achieved by simply soaking an item, for example a doughnut or scone soaked in warm vanilla milk will produce a perfect result. We found a generic pressure cooker gave much more succulent proteins in a quarter of the time for minced and puree levels. We don’t need scientific equipment costing thousands to achieve tasty, attractive, and safe foods. Most of our equipment came from a well-known department store.  No all innovation is expensive, the first step is always around9 creativity and understanding your resources and their efficacy and application to finding your solution.

The Close are proud to share…we started a chef’s club to pass on thought the county and for free of what we had started to learn to help other homes implement IDDSI, quickly and effectively. The following year we had our inspection, and our meal times featured heavily in the report and certainly impacting on our final rating.

Our chefs are trying to improve constantly with foods and find new ways to enhance them. Brushing marmite lightly onto mashed potatoes to make them look like a roast potato. We are proud to say we achieved our mission and we make sure every snack, mealtime and special events are available in all IDDSI levels meaning we truly have dignity and choice at every meal for all residents.

The challenge isn’t can it be done, the challenge is what can we do next.