Healthy eating award is a piece of cake for care home

Members of Fleetwood House's winning team Susan Goodchild, Inga Overko, Gina Vaughan, Michal Bratek and Ruta Nalivaikiene, with their gold award certificate
Members of Fleetwood House's winning team Susan Goodchild, Inga Overko, Gina Vaughan, Michal Bratek and Ruta Nalivaikiene, with their gold award certificate

Enthusiasm for healthy eating has resulted in a gold award for a Littlehampton care home which supports people with learning disabilities.

Fleetwood House, in Maltravers Drive, was given the Eat Out Eat Well award from West Sussex County Council’s healthy eating campaign for helping residents to eat a more varied and balanced diet.

Michal Bratek, team leader, said: “We always work on the basis that the menu we offer to the people we support should feature the kind of meals we’d enjoy eating ourselves, and this has certainly paid off.

“I was always confident that we would do well in these awards, but we were stunned to receive a gold award on our very first attempt.”

Having learning disabilities can make it difficult for the residents to be self-reliant when it comes to their diet, but Michal and the team involve them as much as possible in the selection of the food they eat.

Food choices for the week are discussed at group meetings where individuals are able to use pictures to choose meals, and residents also participate in weekly shopping trips where they are supported to choose the healthiest options available.

Michal said: “The key to our success is that the vast majority of the food we serve is prepared from scratch. It’s all really tasty and almost all home-made, so we can control exactly what goes into it and ensure the people we support are able to eat in a way that positively benefits their health.”

One of the women who lives at Fleetwood House and has Down’s syndrome has seen a healthy loss of almost half her body weight over the past two years.

Michal said: “People with Down’s syndrome face a greater challenge than most when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight but it is just as important for them so we, and she, were delighted when friends at her club started to notice the difference. She is just thrilled with what she’s achieved, and is now altogether more energetic and willing to participate in outdoor activities.”

This award follows the care home scoring top marks in a Food Hygiene inspection in 2017. The inspector suggested they apply for an inspection for the ‘Eat Out Eat Well’ award scheme.

Participants are judged on how well they promote healthy over less healthy options, including minimising the use of added salt and sugar, choosing low-fat alternatives, ensuring meals contain adequate fibre (including a minimum five-a-day of fruit and vegetables) and provide a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats, and how they encourage an appropriate fluids intake.

Michal said: “We all love our food here, and we love to eat well. Meal times are a happy communal activity, and variety is the spice of life. We enjoy a remarkably varied menu.”