The National Association of Care Catering (NACC), the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and the Institute of Hospitality (IoH) have developed the first professional catering qualification for health and social care catering.
The Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care, officially approved by the Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework, was announced at the NACC conference in Nottingham today (5 October).
It is designed for people who cater for patients and residents in a health and social care setting and aims to develop their awareness of diet and appetite issues that may arise in this environment.
They will learn the impact of nutrition and hydration on health and wellbeing, how it relates to population subgroups, and understand the roles of multidisciplinary teams, national standards and guidelines. They will also learn about the effect of dysphagia on patients and how to plan, prepare, cook and finish food for patients with the condition.
The NACC is an organisation representing professionals providing catering to the care industry. It provides information on care sector catering to local authorities, independent providers, the charitable sector and government departments.
Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC said: "The absence of a health and care catering qualification has been a long-term cause for concern and this is a huge step forward for our sector. Our chefs and caterers are incredibly talented and knowledgeable and this qualification gives them the official training and recognition they deserve, and as new recruits enter the sector it will ensure that we can continue to raise standards in care catering."
The HCA represents almost 600 senior health care catering managers and dietitians who provide a wide range of food services for patients, visitors and staff in NHS hospitals and health care facilities nationwide.
Stewart McKenzie, national chair of the HCA, said: "The new qualification recognises the knowledge and skills required in the health and social care sectors, and importantly will complement the current recognised professional cookery qualifications available. Our chefs will now be in a position to obtain the recognition for the roles they perform in our hospitals and care establishments."
Established in the UK in 1938, the Institute of Hospitality is the professional body for individual hospitality managers and aspiring managers. It promotes professionalism and education through its member benefits as well as its UK and international Hospitality & Tourism Management Qualifications.
Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, added: "Caterers in hospitals and care homes now have their own rigorous and specific qualification for their unique training needs. May this encourage more people to choose health and care catering as a rewarding and highly-skilled profession and we would urge all organisations that work in the field of health and social care to make the new qualification available."
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