Poor fresh fruit provision in care homes

The Old Rectory
The Old Rectory

FRESH fruit should be more readily available to improve the diets of Wiganers living in care homes, a health watchdog has said.

The recommendation is part of a number of inspection reports produced by Healthwatch Wigan throughout this year focusing on mealtimes in borough care facilities.

As part of the watchdog’s Enter and View report series, Heathside Residential Care Home (RCH), Leigh, the Old Rectory, Standish, and Norfolk House in Newtown have been placed under scrutiny.

Volunteer inspectors reported positive findings on each occasion but the availability of fresh fruit and the nutritional values of some meals were highlighted as issues that need addressing.

At Norfolk House, inspectors did not observe an evening mealtime but found “for the most part, people are able to choose what food they would like” and a “dietician provides input around the nutrition” of some of the residents.

They found fruit is available but is left in the kitchen, so residents have to ask for it.

The inspectors recommended extra catering staff should be employed and that fruit should be left “in view”.

In response, the care provider explained that as the facility has a mix of elderly mentally infirm (EMI) residents, it would not be appropriate to keep fruit out of the kitchen due to “health and safety issues.”

At the Old Rectory, inspectors recorded that residents had given positive feedback about the standard of meals.

They again recommended that fruit should be available to residents throughout the day and suggested the kitchen should be included in a planned refurbishment programme.

In response, the care provider maintained “a wide variety (of fruit) at every meal time and throughout the day...and are also offered on request.”

At Heathside, inspectors recommended that “a thorough review is taken regarding the standard of the food on offer” as well as similar recommendations about the fruit provision. It was also noted that residents were very positive about the staff working at the facility. But concerns were raised about not all meals being healthy and balanced.

Since the visit, the care provider said a new cook has since been taken on.