Christmas is coming and it’s that time of year we begin to think about gathering together with family and friends. Food is an important part of the festive season, and for patients at St Oswald’s Hospice, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, it’s no different.
Because food is so important to our wellbeing, St Oswald’s Hospice has been creating pureed, smoother food for patients with swallowing difficulties that resembles the look and taste of a regular meal.
Over one million people in the UK suffer from swallowing difficulties*, also known as a condition called dysphagia. Amongst other things, this means for people with this condition food consistency needs to be modified so that they can benefit from a balanced and more interesting diet.
Maureen Raper, Head Chef at St Oswald’s Hospice, tells us more:
“When people are unwell, they often turn to food to support them to get better, or as a pick me up. At the Hospice we care for many people who have swallowing difficulties as a result of their condition. For these people, they need food that doesn’t need to be chewed. This is why we began to look at pureeing our food, so that patients can have the food that they enjoy but at a texture appropriate to them. We know pureed food isn’t a new concept but it is working wonders for our patients and we have received fantastic feedback so far.
“Before introducing pureed food, patients with dysphagia were restricted to only foods that are traditionally soft in texture. This sometimes meant that they were finding it difficult to eat, or not eating. Now these patients are able to have regular meals two or three times a day, including foods such as meat, potatoes and vegetables, and more importantly enjoy their food again.”
Talking about how the food is created, Maureen continued:
“People often ‘eat with their eyes’, so a big part of the enjoyment of food is how it is visually presented. We make food with regular ingredients, which is then pureed and put in to special moulds to create the look of an ordinary meal.
“Our staff have been trained in specialist techniques to create the food, so patients have not only commented that they are able to enjoy their favourite meals, but they have been impressed with the presentation of the food.
“It’s particularly important that we are able to do this over the festive period, so that patients with swallowing difficulties can enjoy a Christmas dinner with their family and friends while they are at
Geoff Hockaday, a patient who has benefitted from pureed food at the Hospice, said:
“I’ve been coming to St Oswald’s Day Service now for six months and have always enjoyed the delicious food that the catering team prepare. Because I have difficulties with swallowing food, I could only previous eat soft and easy to digest foods, such as mash potato and soups. I’m really enjoying the new pureed food that the kitchen serves and I am now eating a pureed version of everything from fish, beans, pies and food that I used to love the taste of but unfortunately could no longer eat.”