Care homes need Jamie Oliver-style campaign

28 December 2005

A Liberal Democrat MP is calling for a Jamie Oliver-style campaign to improve the "shocking" standard of food in care homes for the elderly.

Parliamentary questions tabled by Paul Burstow MP have revealed that more than 2,000 homes in England failed to meet even the basic guidelines set down by the government.

Social care inspectors failed one in five homes on the standard of their food last year. Some 250 homes missed the standard by a wide margin, and about 1,800 more narrowly.

Burstow, who is putting forward a bill on the subject in the House of Commons on 11 January, is calling on the Government to set out nutritional standards for meals in care homes similar to those for school meals that were published earlier this year following chef Jamie Oliver's TV series.

Burstow's call was prompted by European research that showed widespread malnutrition among care home residents.

He said: "Frail and vulnerable elderly people are in care homes to be cared for, not to be starved.

"It's shocking that today almost one in five care homes does not meet even the most basic meal standards.

"The recent focus on children's nutrition is welcome, but we need a Jamie Oliver-style campaign to transform the menus of care homes too.

"It's a scandal that the Government does not even seem to know or care about the quality of food in care homes.

"But if the independent research is true, urgent action is needed to put in place tough national nutritional standards."

by David Shrimpton

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