Sponsored by Premier Foods
The opening of a retirement development within the former Fry’s chocolate factory between Bristol and Bath has raised the bar when it comes to retirement living. Located in the market town of Keynsham, the Chocolate Quarter is a groundbreaking and aspirational place to live that has become a hub for the wider community.
The Chocolate Quarter, which comprises 136 assisted living apartments, a 93-bedroom care home and two restaurants, is one of five retirement communities with a total of nine kitchens operated by south-west charity the St Monica Trust.
It was created in response to a desire from residents to live in more intergenerational communities. The collaboration with neighbours in a new adjacent housing development has been critical to its success – from providing meditation and herbal tea sessions for tenants to a welcome food service for GPs working late in the on-site practice.
The food offer is varied and includes the B Block Pizzeria, serving wood-fired pizzas, and Somer Dining, a gastropub-style outlet. Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton of the Pony & Trap at Chew Magna has helped design the menus, which undoubtedly has helped boost outside business. Families and children are encouraged to use the venues and, once a week, pupils from nearby Somerdale School are invited to have lunch with the trust’s residents. As a result, the engagement between different generations is helping tackle the loneliness felt by many older people.
As well as working with Eggleton, the trust also partners with Weston College and Bristol Sport to make care catering an attractive career choice for young chefs, Together they have opened the School of Food, which has recruited its first batch of eight chefs. At the end of their apprenticeship, each chef is offered a role at one of the partners’ establishments.
Technology is used to the trust’s advantage to ensure meals are balanced nutritionally on a consistent basis, as well as highlighting all allergens, managing gross profit and reducing costs by more than £20,0000.
But, most importantly, it is customer satisfaction that is key and this is regularly tracked. Regular catering forums enable residents to sample potential new dishes, provide feedback on existing meals and choose the wines that appear on the wine list. The taster sessions encourage residents to try dishes that may appear unfamiliar, such as stroganoff, tagines and syllabubs. Meanwhile, care staff take on the role of food champions to advise on residents’ likes and dislikes, or as homemakers to encourage residents living with dementia to eat more at mealtimes.
This year, the trust retained premier status for the 10th consecutive year in the Institute of Hospitality’s Hospitality Assured assessment, which helps businesses provide world-class customer service and employee engagement. Its score of 85.2% is believed to be the highest ever achieved in the UK healthcare sector.
What the judges said
“What a great story. St Monica Trust has introduced some amazing incentives and created a sense of community through its diverse catering and feeding venues.”
David Bridge, development chef, ISS Food and Hospitality
“The blending of young and old is admirable and has benefitted both generations. Additionally, the use of technology has worked well in enhancing the living standards of residents.”
Vic Laws, director, AVL Consultancy
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
St Monica Trust
2017 Gracewell Healthcare
2016 St Andrew’s Healthcare
2015 Sunrise Senior Living
2014 ISS Healthcare
2013 Elior UK