Registered Nursing Home Association

Nutritional guidance from CSCI

In March 2006, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) published Highlight of the Day: Improving Meals and Mealtimes in Care Homes (click here for original copy). 

The report acknowledged that 83 per cent of care homes throughout the country were meeting national minimum standards on meals and mealtimes. 

Commenting on these figures, CSCI said that care homes meeting these standards were the most likely ones to consult with residents on their needs; train staff on nutrition-related issues; and have sufficient staff on duty at mealtimes to be able to help residents enjoy their meals.


Balancing nutritional needs and choice

It is interesting to note that the CSCI report picked up on what it called public apprehension that, if nutritional needs became the sole focus of meal provision, older people would lose their ability to choose the food they like. To a certain extent, there is perhaps a tension between the emphasis which the Food Standards Agency (FSA) places on meeting nutritional needs and the emphasis which CSCI places on choice. In practice, it is important to balance the two.

CSCI recommendations to care homes

The CSCI report contains a number of specific recommendations for care homes in relation to:
  • providing information about food to residents;
  • making food accessible between mealtimes;
  • using a ‘person-centred’ planning approach;
  • holding meetings involving residents, staff and the cook;
  • involving residents in planning and meal preparation;
  • seeking external professional support;
  • using appropriate techniques for serving food;
  • encouraging people to eat;
  • balancing the timing of meals;
  • having a relaxed atmosphere at mealtimes;
  • implementing food hygiene standards;
  • operating good systems for managing supplies.
CSCI also provides a checklist for care homes to use in evaluating their own performance.
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