‘Dedicated’ head chef helps Horsham care home become national awards finalist

A care home in Horsham is enjoying a taste of success after being named as a finalist in a national awards thanks to the dedication of its head chef.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 2:21 pm

Care UK’s Skylark House has been shortlisted in the ‘Best for Nutrition, Food and the Dining Experience’ category in the Care Home Awards, and will find out if it has won in the annual ceremony on September 10.

The care home, on St Mark’s Lane, says the nomination in the awards – which recognises excellence and innovation in UK care home management, operation and delivery – is down to head chef Shaun Pattenden who joined the team in January 2020, and the strong catering team he has built up.

Dorota Woloszyn, home manager at Skylark House, said: “We are delighted to have made it to the finals.

Shaun Pattenden, head chef at Care UK's Skylark House in Horsham SUS-210505-131759001

“Being shortlisted is testament to the team’s hard work and passion to ensure every resident leads a happy and fulfilling life. The last year has certainly had its challenges, but the team have gone above and beyond to maintain as much normality as possible for residents, and food and meal times have played a huge role in this.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team and everything they do to ensure Skylark House is a fantastic place to call home. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a win later this year!”

Skylark House says Shaun has taken a person-centred approach to his role, meeting every resident to design menus around their preferences and clinical needs.

Shaun and his team also lead baking activities, food tasting sessions and cater for themed days and events designed to entertain and engage residents.

With the team’s support, residents are enjoying better health and wellbeing.

When one new resident would only eat sandwiches, and another only vanilla ice cream, Shaun cooked dishes especially for them to build up their interest in food. Now they eat everything on the menu and are enjoying a balanced diet.

The team at Skylark House understand that supporting residents to maintain their independence is key to enabling them to enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle, and food can be central to that.

Residents help around the home by peeling veg with the team, washing up on their suites, or working with the hosts to set tables and fold napkins.

Residents love food-related activities, and the team support with these too.

One 92-year-old lady’s wish was to cook roast dinner for all of her suite – 20 residents plus the team. She gave the team a shopping list of everything she wanted and then cooked the entire meal herself.

Food can also be a great activity for reminiscence. Shaun and his team often adapt dishes or try old recipes that residents suggest which the care home says helps residents to feel valued and involved, and the team enjoy learning from residents.

Once restrictions allow, Shaun is looking forward to organising an à la carte night, teaching residents how to cook on the barbecue, and getting them more involved in their food choices by growing their own fruit and veg, which can be used in the kitchen.