Training provider HIT Training has launched a Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care and will work in partnership with St Andrew's Healthcare to deliver it to an initial cohort of learners.
The qualification is specifically for people who cater for patients and residents in a health and social care setting and has been designed by the Institute of Hospitality (IOH) in association with the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) and National Association of Care Catering (NACC). The qualification is aimed at developing awareness of potential diet and appetite issues, and covers the importance of nutrition, hydration and maintaining health and wellbeing. It also offers specific training on the needs of dysphagia sufferers and how the condition impacts diets and menus.
The qualification also enables caterers to have greater versatility in the kitchen and give residents and patients more choice at meal times by giving employees the right knowledge to prepare suitable meals with fresh ingredients, rather than relying on pre-made meals.
HIT Training has worked closely with development chefs at St Andrew's Healthcare, a charity that provides specialist mental healthcare, to tailor the Level 2 Award programme to meet their precise needs.
Paul Mannering, principal of HIT Training's Chef Academy, said: "It's fantastic to see an employer investing in its chefs and helping them to strengthen their repertoire with a specific discipline.
"Catering for those with dysphagia is a hugely important skill to have in a health and social care setting. Not least, having the additional skills to prepare dysphagic food in an attractive way, exploring creative use of textures to give patients and residents greater visual recognition and enjoyment of their food.
Vicky Wheatley, learning and development manager at St Andrew's Healthcare, added: "Working in a mental health setting, we're delighted to be able to offer our chefs vital knowledge and expertise around dysphagia, which isn't available through most other training programmes. HIT Training has worked closely with us to understand our training requirements and offer us a bespoke programme. This qualification is invaluable to us; it will enable the charity to provide a specialist catering service that gives our chefs the flexibility to stretch their creative muscles and prepare meals with fresh ingredients, with the confidence that they're meeting the individual needs of our residents."