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Texture Modified Diets | Welcome Home Autumn 2018

An increasing number of residents have special dietary requirements and it is therefore important that Avery Head Chefs have excellent understanding, knowledge and the craft skills to be able to deliver a wide variety of special diet meals. One such requirement is for residents with a condition called Dysphagia – the medical term for swallowing difficulties.

The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) has published international standardised terminology and definitions for texture modified foods and thickened liquids for people with dysphagia. The new framework consists of a continuum of eight levels (0-7) and includes descriptors, testing methods and evidence for both drink thickness and food texture levels. The framework aims to improve clinical safety and efficiency by offering healthcare providers standardised terminology which is culturally sensitive, measurable and applicable to people of all age groups in all care settings. It is being introduced throughout the UK in 2018/19. Ultimately, our chefs will use the same methods and processes as they are currently but there will be a need to change the terminology used.

Vegetables culinary cooking food preparation

Head Chef training

Over the last three years, Simon Lawrence and Wayne Wright (Business Development Chef for our award-winning supplier BidFood), have worked closely to develop mandatory courses for all Avery Head Chefs and this has included textured modified diet training courses. The current course combines an interactive learning session with a team building practical session, where chefs learn to make and present dysphasic meals that taste good, are full of nutrients and calories and look very appealing.

Avery has quickly embraced the new framework, recognising the significant benefits to residents of minimising the risk of food aspiration and subsequent choking. The new updated course to meet the framework requirements commences in September and Head Chefs will look at different styles, shapes, textures and flavours which are all of paramount importance when catering for complex diets.

The importance of food presentation

Food presentation is just as essential to the success of a dish as its taste and flavour. The way the food looks on the plate is what tempts our eyes and makes you want to taste it. Imagine how some plates look when the food is bland and messy and how much better they look when thought has been given to colour and presentation. The same ingredients can create very different results.

Another important rule of food presentation is balancing variety and contrast. It is good to have a variety of textures on the plate and how these textures are combined is very important. Good presentation of a puree meal can have an enormous impact on encouraging appetite and ensuring good nutrition.

The Future

The Avery Dysphasic Diet Training course provides an excellent opportunity for Chefs to learn additional craft skills and to use newly available products to help make a difference to food presentation.

While we initially developed the course for our Head Chefs, in 2019 we will make it available, along with many others, to our Sous Chefs. This helps to support further commitment to continuously develop our award-winning culinary teams. At Avery, we welcome the new IDDSI framework as it provides more detail and simpler testing methods and is backed up by strong research to improve resident safety. We believe that raising the profile of Dysphagia can only be a good thing!

Article by Simon Lawrence, Group Culinary Manager