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Caring Cuisine: Nourishing Meals in Respite Care Retreats

by | Jan 17, 2024 | Respite Care, Services

Kitchens that service respite care nursing homes are currently in pursuit of professional support to upgrade the cooking abilities of their staff members. Alongside receiving guidance on offering more nutritious food options, these cooks are being educated on expanding the variety of dishes they offer to the patients under their care. 

The enhancement in their skills will aid respite care in fulfilling stricter standards that will be implemented next year, which cover areas such as dietary requirements and mental well-being within these facilities. Additionally, the regulations provide explicit instructions for achieving exemplary care-giving benchmarks and place heightened focus on areas like skincare, oral hygiene, and continence management.

Homes will need to hire dietitians to oversee residents’ dietary needs in order to ensure proper nutrition. In addition, a nutritional assessment must be conducted for each resident every six months. Since 2012, the Agency for Integrated Care has been organizing cooking classes with professional chefs, aided by volunteers from the Singapore Chefs Association. 

2023 saw an increase in the number of participating cooks to 23 from 14 organizations, compared to last year’s participation of 16 cooks from 11 organizations. In total, a group of 60 cooks representing 27 intermediate and long-term care institutions – primarily nursing homes – have participated in these classes so far.

At Mandarin Oriental Hotel, executive chef Eric Teo is responsible for training participants in menu variation rather than restaurant cuisine. The main goal is to ensure that nursing home residents have a fresh dining experience every day and do not become tired of repetitive meals. 

Cooks at these bustling facilities face the challenge of preparing three complete meals each day for an average population of 200 residents, many of whom have specific dietary restrictions.

At the latest 2023 boot camp hosted by Mandarin Oriental Hotel, executive chef Eric Teo takes on the role of a trainer. Head chef Hong Kee Eng from Villa Francis Home for the Aged shares their approach to adapting meals for elderly residents by incorporating minced meat or steamed eggs to ensure ease of chewing. 

During her participation in the boot camp, she is captivated by a unique chicken cooking method taught – slowly submerging it into boiling water rather than cooking it as a whole. Despite the additional time required, she emphasizes that this technique significantly improves tenderness based on feedback received from all their residents.

Culinary experts face a challenging task in maintaining an intricate equilibrium between taste and nutrition. The Sunshine Welfare Action Mission (Swami) Home showcases this difficulty by consciously steering clear of fried dishes and refraining from using additives like chicken powder due to their excessive sodium levels. 

Madam Leela Narayana, one of the experienced cooks at the home who is 64 years old, emphasized the necessity of exploring diverse methods to enhance flavours such as incorporating pepper. Moreover, this establishment embraces both health-conscious brown rice and enticing white rice in their culinary repertoire.

The home’s head chef, Song Wee Kiat, ensures that their meals are a mix of healthy brown rice and tasty white rice. Chef Kiat explains that this blend is necessary because the residents struggle with eating just one kind of rice and often complain about it.

Resident John Peck, who has been living in the home for almost 14 years and is now 65 years old, has noticed improvements in the menu. Peck enthusiastically shares his view by stating that the quality of the food has exceeded what he experienced in recent times.

Tingkat meals are a healthier alternative to traditional food delivery services because they contain less salt and oil, offering the same comforting taste as homemade meals. Each Tingkat lunch box is made up of multiple layers, featuring a variety of dishes that bring diversity to every meal. 

For individuals who are short on time or lack culinary expertise, most catering companies provide daily or weekly Tingkat delivery services. Moreover, new mothers can benefit from confinement meals, which are thoughtfully prepared with nutrient-rich ingredients to aid in postpartum recovery.

The cost of a Tingkat meal is $7 on average. Estimates of the costs of Tingkat meals and delivery in Singapore can vary depending on multiple factors. Firstly, the size and composition of the household will affect the price as larger families may require more food portions. Generally, a Tingkat meal package for a family of four can range from SGD 180 to SGD 250 per month. Additionally, certain Tingkat providers offer flexible plans that allow customers to select specific weekdays for meal delivery or opt for partial week services.

This has reduced overall costs as customers only pay for the days they require the service. Tingkat surpasses being just a food delivery service for homemade meals; it has evolved and enhanced over the years to provide even greater convenience and satisfaction for families in Singapore. 

Providing nutritious and delicious meals for respite care in Singapore is essential for the well-being and satisfaction of both caregivers and care recipients. These meals not only offer a break from the daily routine but also ensure that individuals receive the necessary nutrients to maintain their health. 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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