Care home Digest Launch

elderly woman recieving meal at a care home

Overview of Digest - by Tess Warnes, Dietitian

Last week saw the launch of the much anticipated – and very much needed – Care Home Digest. This is a set of nutritional standards and guidelines for those working in care homes. Until now, no national food service standards have existed to support care homes to meet the nutritional needs of their residents.

Our dietitian, Tess Warnes, attended the launch. Here she shares a summary of the Digest with some practical advice about how to best use it.

The Digest covers four key areas and includes check lists on mealtime service and menu assessment. This means homes are able to benchmark where they are and also identify areas that may need to be worked on.

The guidelines are intended to be used as a tool kit. Care homes can navigate the sections and work through it and make changes over time.

1. Nutrition and hydration needs, screening for malnutrition and care planning

Nutritional needs for older adults are slightly different from the rest of the adult population. They are needing slightly more protein, calcium, folate, and vitamin B12 than younger adults. Therefore a nutrient rich diet is important.

Malnutrition is covered in detail, as is how to screen for malnutrition. Personalised care plans are essential for all residents. These should be instructional and personalised.

nutrition and hydration within care homes

2. Delivering positive mealtime experience

For most people eating a meal isn’t simply about meeting nutritional requirements. Enjoyment of the meal, meal experience and environment are just as (or even more!) important than the nutritional content of the food.

This chapter covers in detail how to enhance food service for residents. It considers before, during and after mealtimes. It also looks at the dining environment, menus in different formats, and how care teams can enable residents to have and make choices. 

3. Menu Planning and design

Enjoyment of food is always going to be more important than whether food is nutritionally balanced, and residents should always be able to choose meals and snacks they prefer. Menu planning is still important and ensures catering teams can meet and balance requirements through the provision of the food and drink served.

Residents need to be at the centre of menu planning. A menu planning group made up of chefs, residents and the care team can be a good place to start.

nutritionally balanced meal

4. Special Diets

Within this chapter more details are given for catering for those on special diets including:

  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrient dense diets, including ideas for nutrient dense snacks, drinks and food fortification
  • Dysphagia
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes

4. Key Take Home Messages

We hope you found this overview useful.

View the full Care home Digest!


If you would like any support implementing these guidelines, or you would like your menus to be checked, our nutrition and dietetics team can help! From site visits to in person or online training, or remote menu reviews, Tess is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience:

Tess Warnes

Tess Warnes leads allmanhall’s dietetic activity and holds a BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics. Tess is a registered Dietitian with The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration number DT14670. Tess has a wealth of experience in the field of nutrition, having worked in large teaching hospitals in London, led a nutrition consultancy firm, and now has been with allmanhall for 8 years.

Tess designs and delivers bespoke training sessions on nutrition, malnutrition, hydration, and allergen management to allmanhall’s care clients. Tess also delivers accredited training sessions with the Royal Society of Public Health.

Tess is a member of the British Dietetic Association Older People Specialist Group, as well as the Sustainability Diets specialist group and supports clients to embed sustainability into their menus whilst meeting nutritional requirements and national standards.

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