Where should villages or rest homes look to provide the right sort of training for their catering staff?

What is on the menu plays a very important part for most of us, and it is a focal point of life in a retirement village or rest home.

Serving a nutritious, balanced, and interesting daily diet that tempts sometimes jaded or poor appetites is essential and what most catering operators strive to provide. Having skilled staff in the kitchen is vital for developing and delivering a good menu.

However, finding and keeping people with the right skills is not always easy. Offering training programmes for new catering staff, or for those who are working in these roles currently, to upskill them will improve their job satisfaction and can impact positively on staff retention rates.

Within the aged care qualifications promoted by Careerforce, there are unit standards on eating and drinking that look at supporting a person to eat and drink in an aged care, health, or disability context. Infection control and safe working environments are also covered. However, nutrition and food safety do not fall within Careerforce’s remit.

In larger residential facilities, it is not standard practice for care workers and healthcare assistants to prepare food; this is typically the role of kitchen staff. Where should providers look to ensure their kitchen staff members are adequately trained?

Programmes to help upskill staff in the food services sector are offered by ServiceIQ, the industry training organisation (ITO) for New Zealand hospitality. Funded by Government and by industry, ServiceIQ – short for service industry qualifications – is responsible for setting the national skill standards for the hospitality industry and developing arrangements for the delivery of industry training and assessment of trainees, both on and off the job.

“The course is the first of its kind to be launched in the aged care sector, and we are pleased with the positive response from the residential care organisations to the programme so far”, says Dean Minchington, Chief Executive of ServiceIQ.

Bupa Care Services, Metlifecare, and Radius Residential Care are among those aged care providers that have been working closely with ServiceIQ to develop their staff through training programmes that help them learn new skills or build on the ones they have. The programmes target all levels and recognise that people have different learning abilities.

Steven Heesen, manager of property and procurement for Radius Residential Care, comments that his company recognises that food quality, service, and presentation are becoming more and more important with the growth and demands in the aged care industry.

“The Food Services Residential course addresses the specific needs of rest homes and we feel it is important to up-skill our staff to be able to deliver more choice and well-presented meals to our residents”.

While there are various factors that contribute to preparing and serving a nutritious, balanced, and interesting daily diet, having skilled staff in the kitchen definitely plays a key part in delivering a good menu each and every day.

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