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Dementia Action Week 2022: Cutlery-free Dining – Avery

For Dementia Action Week Day 3, we’re recognising and highlighting the importance of treating people living with dementia with dignity and respect in every aspect of their lives, with mealtimes being no exception.

Avery Healthcare is extremely proud to support a cutlery-free dining initiative, whereby mealtimes are an enjoyable and inclusive experience for all residents.

We’ve worked closely in collaboration with Premier Foods, our experts Simon Lawrence, Head of Culinary and Hospitality, and Jo Crossland, Head of Dementia, to produce a guide which provides recipes, advice, tips, and tricks on how to adapt everyday meals into cutlery-free options for those who have difficulty eating, with a particular focus on finger foods for adults with dementia.

There are many reasons why a person may have difficulty eating and using cutlery to eat a meal or a snack. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, arthritis, or a stroke can affect how an individual can utilise cutlery.

As innovators within the care sector, it is of fundamental importance to Avery that this continues to develop throughout the culinary teams and is something which is implemented throughout all care homes within our portfolio. Avery is at the forefront when it comes to creative and innovative care home meals. The cutlery-free guide aims to inspire and raise awareness around the importance of healthy, nutritional cutlery-free meals that are just as accessible as traditional dishes.

What is Cutlery-Free Dining?

Residents who have difficulty eating meals using conventional cutlery typically require assistance from others, or will have been served finger foods at mealtimes – the type of food you might expect at a party or gathering.

Unfortunately, the reliance on this type of food increases the risk of undernourishment due to the lower nutritional content.

By encouraging the cutlery-free dining ideology, it ensures individuals who have eating problems due to conditions or illnesses receive the same nutritious and delicious foods as their fellow residents, without feeling discriminated.

When considering potential finger foods for adults with dementia, Avery aims to keep menu options as similar as possible to the main meal option, again supporting the idea that no resident should be discriminated against due to their medical condition.

Clever Cuisine – Inclusive Food for Dementia Residents

Through a strong collaboration between Simon, Jo and Premier Foods, Avery is at the forefront when it comes to creative and innovative care home meals. The driving force behind the cutlery-free initiative is to ensure mealtimes contain inclusive food for dementia residents.

Our informative guide aims to raise awareness around the importance of nutritious, healthy cutlery-free meals for all care home residents to enjoy.

Cutlery-Free Meal Inspiration

Our chefs work tirelessly to create delicious meals that allow residents to enjoy mealtimes in a dignified manner. Each of the chefs receive thorough training in the cutlery-free approach, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to provide adapted meals using the same ingredients as main meals with excellent nutritional values.

Examples of some of the delicious meals for dementia patients and cutlery-free dishes you might find within our care homes are:

Roast Dinners – vegetables and potatoes can be cut and cooked in a way which allows for cutlery-free mealtimes. Yorkshire puddings can be filled with creamed potatoes, with gravy either spooned over or in a dipping pot.

Soups – A fantastic source of fibre and calories while bursting with flavour. Flavours can be layered with cheese, bacon, or bread.

Desserts – Bite-sized portions, or mini-versions of desserts work well for those who have difficulty eating with cutlery. Sauces, creams and ice cream can be served in an accompanying dipping pot, or can be added to each bite or mouthful.

Dementia Action Week: What’s Next?

On our continued journey to raise awareness for Dementia Action Week, tomorrow our Head of Dementia, Jo, will be presenting the second webinar of the week.

Join us to learn about basic facts and myths, how dementia can affect physical and mental health, as well as to discuss the importance of learning someone’s life story to aid dementia care.

Jo and Simon recently discussed Avery’s approach to cutlery-free dining during an interview with Care Home Catering. Jo explains: “If we can play a part in changing the way that chefs think about and present their food for people that require assistance with cutlery, then that would be an amazing thing to achieve. This is about inspiring change across the sector.”