Denise Chandler, Head Cook at Balhousie Willowbank

MEDIA RELEASE: 28 August 2023

Balhousie Care Group and Dundee and Angus College are taking partnership working to a new level with the rollout of a bespoke nutrition course.

Thanks to a request from the company, which is Scotland’s largest independent provider of care for older persons, to the college, team members have been taking part in the especially-tailored course.

The brand-new programme equips teams with an even greater knowledge and understanding of the benefits of good nutrition and the specific challenges faced when providing care home residents with a varied, balanced, healthy diet. It especially teaches around dysphagia – difficulty, and potentially pain, while swallowing. Significantly, dysphagia can make it difficult to take in enough calories and fluids to nourish the body and can lead to additional health problems, so it’s a particularly important aspect to consider when providing meals for older persons.

The two-day course is ideal both as an introduction to catering in care homes, or as a refresher for longer-serving staff.

It contains a number of focus areas, including the importance of good nutrition; nutrition for the elderly, including how the Eatwell guide relates to older people; nutritious meals, menu planning and conditions affecting food and fluid intake, and weight; food consistency, fortification and enhancement.

The course has already refreshed the skills of kitchen staff at Balhousie Willowbank in Carnoustie, who are keen to sing its praises.

Denise Chandler, Head Cook at Balhousie Willowbank, Carnoustie said: “The course was good for myself, my second cook and my kitchen assistants. We are all aiming for the same high standards to keep our residents safe, make sure everyone is getting the correct nutrition and to cater to everyone’s individual wants and needs.

“If I could do the course again tomorrow, I’d do it!”

Balhousie Care Group have worked together with Dundee and Angus College for many years, training teams across their 24 homes, but previously, it was always around frontline care work courses. This joint project marks the first time a study plan has been specifically tailored to a different area of provision: the hospitality aspect, still vital for residents’ care, but a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Balhousie Care Group defined their needs and vision and then Dundee and Angus College matched those to their educational expertise.

The course focusses on helping kitchen staff create nutritious meals, with a low choking hazard, as well as a focus on allergens, all essential for keeping residents safe.

Kyle Manns, Regional Learning and Development Facilitator at Balhousie Care Group, explains: “The pilot of the course at Balhousie Willowbank has been immensely successful, and we are excited to see it rolled out across all of our homes across Scotland.

“It will give our talented, hard-working teams a better understanding of nutrition, menu planning, texture and fortification.

“This course will bring enormous benefits to our staff, and most importantly, our residents, who mean everything to us.

“We are delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with Dundee and Angus College, and look forward to seeing the enrichment it brings in the coming weeks and months.”

Caryn Gibson, Business Partnerships Manager at Dundee and Angus College, said: “Central to care is hospitality and nutrition. This training has allowed us to get creative, work collaboratively and design a fresh course specifically-designed to enhance the skills of the kitchen staff.”

The programme has been created with support from the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, Scottish Government-provided funding designed to help businesses improve the skills of their employees.

Caryn continued, “Together we were able to design specifically for the needs and wants of Balhousie Care Group, including delivering around the operational needs of the home.

“We know taking staff out of daily operations is unworkable for many businesses, and especially the care sector. Our training teams can go out to places of work, Balhousie Willowbank, on this occasion, and provide the essential training on-site, using equipment the staff have access to every day.”

Leanne Fairburn, Service Manager at ASC, said: “We are so proud of our team at Sidlaw View. They work incredibly hard every single day to help our service users reach their full potential, and make a huge difference to their lives and the lives of their families. It is wonderful to see their dedication and the invaluable work they do being recognised.”

ASC is part of Balhousie Care Group, supporting adults with a learning disability to live within their own homes. People using the service are supported to reach their full potential in every aspect of their daily lives, with no limitations.

Person-centred care is a vital part of Balhousie Care Group’s philosophy, and ASC is tailored specially to the individual using a PBS approach in all aspects of care. The service users’ wants and needs are at the forefront of how the facility is run.