Dysphagia with Exemplar

Exemplar Health Care understands the importance of good, nutritious food. Providing healthy, balanced meals is just one part of providing quality care to our service users.

In addition to understanding a person’s favourite foods and dietary preferences, when a new service user comes to Exemplar they are assessed to determine their dietary needs - whether they can eat a typical diet, or if their condition may put them at a risk of choking.

Pureed diets are often required for those who have difficulty swallowing food as a result of their condition. Pureed food can often appear unappetising – and we knew that while people said that the food was always tasty, sometimes it didn’t look appealing.

Kitchen managers from each home, supported by the food and nutrition leads at Exemplar, took part in training to understand recent developments in pureed diets, and learned new methods of presenting meals whilst also conserving key nutrients.

This new method of presenting pureed food is proving a big hit with service users and staff at Exemplar. Foods are pureed, thickener is added and the food is then piped, whilst still hot, onto plates to resemble the food’s original form.

Claire, Willowbeck’s Kitchen Manager, uses the new method to prepare a pureed pizza;

“Our service users really enjoy home-made pizzas and we wanted everyone to have the choice to try them. Through trial and error, we can now serve pizza to people who eat a pureed diet. The pizza base is made as usual, before being pureed and set back into shape. After adding thickener to tomato puree, we add the sauce on top. For the toppings, we puree the ham and cheese, flatten and blast chill it before cutting to shape. Once the pizza has been created, we carefully heat it without melting the puree. Heat-resistant piping bags allow us to recreate food in the right shapes on people’s plates.”

Those enjoying the pureed pizza commented that they liked the look of the food and appreciated that they were able to eat the same thing as their fellow residents. One service user commented that they could smell the individual flavours and enjoy their food as a meal, rather than as a soup.

Exemplar’s kitchen managers took on the challenge of making all kinds of food available to everyone we care for. To make the pizza, Claire spent two weeks experimenting with different temperatures, cooking methods and thickener to create something suitable for everyone at Willowbeck. She said, “When we had the training, they said it would be impossible to puree pizza, pasta and rice - but we found a way.”

All Exemplar homes are now implementing the new methods in their kitchens, ensuring all service users can enjoy the same menu choices.