A Market Garden at Cheviot Nursing Home

Staff at Cheviot Nursing Home in Colchester, thought that presenting food in its fresh, raw state might provide their residents with an additional point of interest and help them to connect with their past life experience – the result was a market garden!

Food is a social event in many care environments where staff, visitors and residents come together and conversations and relationships flourish. Maintaining choice and stimulating our senses, helps us all to connect with who we are.

Often a very well presented and nutritionally balanced meal can evoke a sense of comfort and well-being from within, and enjoying food is a pleasure many people share.

Our menus are comprehensive, well-planned, exquisitely presented and have a fortified, good nutritional balance. Staff are encouraged to eat with residents and help with feeding.

We have background music at mealtimes and this gives atmosphere and ambiance but do we wondered whether we could provide a choice of raw, seasonal foods to suit our resident’s choices?

We had a vision that presenting food in its fresh and uncooked state might provide our residents with additional stimulus and interest and this is how the concept of a market garden at Cheviot Nursing Home developed.

Fresh deliveries of food arrive on Tuesdays and after an initial meeting with the cook and sharing our ideas, we embraced the concept.

Before long, ideas bounced around us and proposals were made. One of our residents had been a housekeeper and companion – we spent time chatting with her and she shared her recipes and knowhow of a menu she loved. She adored seasonal vegetables and handling and preparing fresh meat and poultry.

We advertised the market and had many attendees – the cooks were hearing stories, having recipes and cooking instructions passed onto them. The dining room was buzzing with chatter! We met again to review the situation, shared ideas and talked about how we could achieve the best outcomes for the most people.

We now invite up to four residents to each session – food is chosen, the cook and resident chat about preparation – how they would like it cooked and served, often adding ‘I cook it like this …’ Naturally this is additional work for our kitchen staff, as the individual’s choices are cooked alongside the daily planned menu for others.

It has been an opportunity for the cooks to ‘showcase’ their culinary skills. They have found embraced the idea and developed additional positivity in their work while the residents are enjoying the market and fully engaged in the process – a win-win for all and promoting a positive culture within the Home.