By 2040, nearly one in four people in the UK (24.2%) will be aged 65 or over. As the population enjoys a longer lifespan, the need for residential care in our twilight years is growing, and care caterers are having to deal with a wide range of dietary and medical conditions.

As the Baby Boomer generation, who have travelled widely, start to reach an age where they may require residential care, how should menus be adapted to reflect their tastes? And, with 850,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK, how can you best cater for their condition? Similarly, special attention is required for dysphagia sufferers. Here, nine care sector chefs and industry experts share their tips on recipes and practices that have worked well for them and been well received in care homes.

Gary Ford, head chef at St Monica Trust and chair of the National Association of Care Catering South West region To ensure that our menu reflects the diverse and often adventurous tastes of our residents, I chat with them regularly at our food forums. Here we talk about the foods they love and those they’re perhaps not so keen on. They really value being part of the decision process. For our residents with dementia, we make sure they have access to snacks 24 hours a day, as some like to eat small amounts more By 2040, nearly one in four people in the UK (24.2%) will be aged 65 or over. As the population enjoys a longer lifespan, the need for residential care in our twilight years is growing, and care caterers are having to deal with a wide range of dietary and medical conditions. regularly. Finger food is ideal for this. Presentation of dishes is also important, including the visual contrast between the food and plate, and the area around the plate.

Good examples of finger food are: • High-calorie flapjack tray bake or similar types of sweet foods to obtain maximum calories with minimal mass • Sausages • Cheese chunks • Fruit dipped in chocolate • Sandwich fingers

Oliver Smith, executive chef at Wetherby Manor care home, part of luxury elderly care provider Hadrian Healthcare Group, and NACC Care Chef of the Year 2015 It’s really important to get to know each resident. I have weekly meetings with Wetherby Manor’s manager, who is also a nurse, and we check on calorie intakes and health changes to make sure everyone is getting the right nutritional balance. I see our residents every day as food is served and it’s great, they tell me exactly what they think, which means we can keep improving. Also their needs can change from day to day depending on their health and we respond to that. We aim for the highest quality every day and always prepare from fresh ingredients. Roasted peach with Swiss meringue and almond granola is a great looking dessert with great flavour. Residents have loved the sweetness and contrasting textures of the soft meringue and granola. Visit www.stiritupmagazine/recipes/ for the full recipe.

Matt Dodge, Kerrymaid brand ambassador and care executive chef at Chelsea Court Place, London Catering for the elderly can be a unique and challenging task but can be a rewarding process when residents enjoy what they are eating. My top tips for care catering are:

• Use smoothies throughout the day to promote hydration, fortify diets and increase calorie consumption

• Using show plates can help residents living with dementia make a more informed choice about their meals. Plate up example dishes as a visual prompt for residents living with dementia to help them feel more confident in their decisions and stimulate their appetites

• Create an information card for each resident with their allergens, nutritional needs, dietary requirements and food like and dislikes

Frances Booth, category marketing manager, Lotus Bakeries Liquidised diets can seem unpalatable resulting in refusal to eat, which in turn leads to weight loss and under-nutrition and therefore causes a larger scale problem. Instead, these residents require very small, nutrient dense appealing foods so that this does not occur. In just 1-2 teaspoons of Lotus Biscoff Smooth Biscuit Spread a resident can receive 118 calories and 0.5g protein in one tasty snack. It’s perfect as a standalone high calorie snack, or it can be added into various soft breakfast meals such as porridge. Simply spoon in a 20g portion and stir into freshly made porridge where it will melt into the warm mix. It also works well in a range of desserts and can be added to milkshakes. One particular favourite is a Chocolate and Biscoff Mousse. The full recipe is available online at

Sam Rain, Sosa brand ambassador People who suffer with dementia are affected by a loss of appetite due to numerous reasons; a really effective way of encouraging people to eat can be hugely helped by using aromas and flavourings. When infusing an aroma into an environment or giving a recipe more intense flavour, patients are much more likely to consume and enjoy their food, which could assist with bringing back past memories from pre-dementia. Creating themed evenings could also be an excellent option to excite patients by enhancing the whole experience, by infusing aromas throughout the room, to complement your theme before entertaining. Like a night back at the fun fair with cotton candy aroma and fun fair inspired menu, a curry night with various spice aromas or a garden party with herb and flower aromas.

Fergus Martin, foodservice development chef, Major International We’re getting to the point where residents’ tastes will have been influenced by travel and the global cuisines they may have encountered in home cooking. This poses a potential advantage to care home caterers, as the creative ways other cultures use texture and flavour could be used to develop recipes for residents with special dietary or medical requirements. You could create a spicier flavour or gluten-free and vegetarian dishes by adding a Mari Base to an existing recipe which would instantly give you a different take on it, without adding time onto your preparation. Something like Moroccan shredded chicken would be a good example as it needn’t be too spicy and provides a good balance between adventurous global flavours and comforting food.

Mark Tilling, UK Chocolate Master and winner of the first series of Bake Off Crème de la Crème Chocolate mousse powders, such as those produced by Callebaut, are brilliant for creating delicious, easy-to-eat desserts for elderly diners. They’re a rich and indulgent treat with the real taste of Belgian chocolate. Add a layer of fruit puree for extra nutritional value, such as orange puree, then top with grated orange zest for a premium looking dessert.

Alex Hall, head of the culinary team at Unilever Whatever the season, there are few dishes more comforting either to prepare or to eat than a bowl of soup. It’s also a great tool for any chef working in elderly care for many reasons. Hydration Keeping residents wellhydrated is a major challenge, but did you know on average 20% of our water intake comes from food? Soup is a great way to help ward off dehydration. Nutrition Soup is the perfect format to enhance with protein, extra vitamins or more calories. Noodles and croutons or evaporated milk and cream can add vital calories, while shredded meats can bring depth of flavour and extra protein. Finely chopped veg in soup is an easy way of getting towards eating five a day, while beans and pulses offer vitamins, calories and protein all at once. Ease of eating For residents who have problems with appetite or swallowing, soup is a great way to eat a familiar dish whilst being versatile enough for chefs to adapt to residents’ individual needs.

Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry Council chairman Runny eggs can go back the menu for all customers after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued new advice stating that eggs carrying the British Lion mark can now be safely eaten runny, or even raw, by vulnerable groups such elderly people. A smooth Quiche Lorraine filling is a perfect sof t t ext ured food for vulnerable groups such as the elderly Dysphagia hints and tips • Ideas for soft textured foods include soft omelette, smooth quiche filling, scrambled egg, sweet or savoury baked egg custard (can be made with fortified milk), soft baked egg, smooth no-bake cheesecake filling, traditionally made tiramisu (well soaked sponge fingers) • Soft food for people with dysphagia should be served in pieces no larger than 1.5cm • Soft dishes like these could also be pureed for residents who require pureed food due to dysphagia