An ex-military chef and paramedic has enlisted the skills he learned in the armed forces and deployed them in a care setting.

After deciding to work on ‘Civvy Street’, Cliff Grand-Scrutton is now the director of Larchfield House, a dementia care specialist home with 74 beds in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The home prides itself on its ‘person-centred approach’ and its team of dedicated staff believes strongly that good nutrition and hydration are key elements to supporting and caring for residents.
“We’re working on a research project with Salford University looking at the benefits of good nutrition and hydration on people living with dementia,” explains Cliff, who took the helm in March 2018.
“Our menus always include six main food groups, which are known to have nutritional benefits for people living with dementia.
“However, the most important thing is to engage with the residents and
their families to find out about their history and cultural backgrounds, as well as the types of foods they liked to eat.
“It’s no great surprise that, with an average age of 85, they have an appetite for traditional fayre so we have two roast dinners a week on Wednesday and Sunday.”

Providing stimulation is another important ingredient in successful catering and themed events are a big success, as long as you choose the right event, says Cliff. “A lot of care homes tend to always go back to World War II when planning themed events but 65 year olds, for example, were born after the war.

My advice is, be considerate of your age range and pick a modern theme. Your residents might prefer an Indian curry house theme to eating corned beef. Be adventurous. A lot of residents these days are well travelled and had an affluent lifestyle.”

Larchfield has four dining rooms, along with a private dining room where residents can enjoy special family occasions. There are also lots of organised activities to stimulate good appetite. “Some of our residents were dog walkers before they came here so we encourage them to have a bit of a walk and get some fresh air,” continues Cliff. “Residents love to think they’re going out for a treat, putting on their coats and walking up the road.

“Even things like opening the windows to let in fresh air makes the body work a little bit harder and makes you feel hungrier.” The catering team uses a variety of Country Range products in their dishes, and a particular favourite is the tinned fruit. Country Range Solid Pack Rhubarb is used to make delicious rhubarb smoothies fortified with double cream and powdered milk.

“The rhubarb is very fresh and less stringy than other varieties,” explains Cliff. “It’s highly stewed which is better for the dietetic guidelines, and not overly sweet which is important because we have a number of residents who are diabetic.”

Larchfield follows the IDDSI guidelines for people on texture modified diets and runs a day behind the regular menu on purée because of resources. “It makes sense,” says Cliff. “We blast chill the food and then purée it for the following day. We cook for 75 people in total, 30% of which need puréed food. Time management is key and doing it this way means we have more time to present the food nicely.”