Care home’s tasty twist on a very English tradition

Belong Atherton resident Beryl Melling enjoying afternoon tea with daughter Cheryl
Belong Atherton resident Beryl Melling enjoying afternoon tea with daughter Cheryl

A care village has produced a clever twist on the classic afternoon tea to transform the lives of residents with swallowing difficulties.

Belong Atherton has used moulds to create a range of sandwiches and cakes which look almost indistinguishable from regular foods but are suitable for people with dysphagia.

The condition makes swallowing food and drink extremely tough and sufferers usually have reconstituted pureed meals to get enough nutrition.

However, the Mealhouse Lane care facility’s bistro and catering manager Christine Thomas and her team have been getting creative to make meal times a more attractive and enjoyable proposition for Belong residents with dysphagia.

The village celebrated its new creation with a special afternoon tea allowing people with the condition to enjoy appetising cakes, desserts and savouries that looked and tasted like regular food alongside family and friends.

Staff say the use of moulds to create special dysphagia meals has had a massive effect on the lives of those affected.

Belong activity co-ordinator Gemma Willetts said: “The new approach to creating reconstituted meals is having a huge impact on quality of life and this was obvious at our afternoon tea.”

Belong creates food for individuals with dysphagia every day, with residents able to choose from a varied menu at each meal in both the village’s households and its bistro. Staff have also received extra training to improve their understanding of the condition.