Encore Care Homes, a specialist residential, nursing and dementia care home manager operating in Dorset and Hampshire, opened Great Oaks, its third state-of-the-art care home in June this year.
Hamble Heights in Fareham opened in 2013 and was Encore’s first 60-bed care home offering residential, nursing and dementia care. Fairmile Grange, in Christchurch, followed in 2016: the 80-bed home was built in partnership with the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The latest addition to the group’s portfolio, Great Oaks is a purpose-built 80-bed care home situated in Bournemouth.
Encore promotes the philosophy of using fresh, locally sourced ingredients in its nutrition-rich meals. The wellbeing of residents is prioritised across the entire estate; food and nutrition is managed by a passionate catering team at each site. Residents are encouraged to be involved with the menu selection and the catering team ensures a varied meal offering is provided on a daily basis.
‘‘We incorporate our ethos of creating a home-from-home into our catering offering,” explains Great Oaks Head Chef, Alex Every.
“I visit all new residents within 24 hours of them arriving at the home to introduce myself, ask for their favourite meal requests and if they have any special dietary requirements, which can then be incorporated into the home’s menus. My catering team will always go the extra mile to create residents’ favourite dishes,” he says.
“I have worked in the care industry for more than 20 years and there has been one resounding constant – the important role that food plays in everyday life. Whether it is the first meal of the day that entices you out of your comfortable bed, or a simple snack, or sandwich – one thing for certain is that food is often one of the highlights of the day and something to look forward to.
“I never want to become complacent in my role,” continues Alex. “If I went out for a meal and it wasn’t enjoyable, I wouldn’t go back to the restaurant. Therefore, it is always at the forefront of my mind that the residents dine here every day and as Head Chef, I always have to be on my ‘A-game’. They expect great food and I strive to make sure that the kitchen team and I deliver the very best results.”
Great Oaks is discreetly located within a private woodland setting which is enhanced by the landscaped garden. It features raised flowerbeds and a vegetable patch, which green-fingered residents are welcome to help maintain. Organic seasonal vegetables and the herbs that are grown in the garden are used wherever possible to enhance the taste and nutritional value of the dishes. All food is sourced from local suppliers within a five-mile radius, apart from dry goods which come from Salisbury.
The menus change four times a year for the spring, summer, autumn and winter seasons. The weekly menu offers different choices every day and rotates on a four-week basis. Each resident is given a hot and cold option for breakfast and dinner, with lunch being the main meal of the day, offering three courses and including three options to choose from for the main course.
‘‘Our residents largely enjoy a traditional English menu ranging from casserole dishes to roast gammon and pineapple, lamb stew and dumplings, sausage and mash, roast dinners and of course the very popular ‘Fish & Chip Friday’. If a resident doesn’t fancy what’s on offer we are happy to cook something they want to eat and will always try to accommodate our residents’ needs,’’
Great Oaks has private dining rooms so that residents can have a meal together with their loved ones, just as they always have done for a special birthday or Sunday lunch. The relaxed communal dining rooms are bright, airy and lovely spaces to socialise with other residents at dinner. However, if they would prefer to eat in their room, eat a little earlier or later, then the team at Great Oaks is happy to oblige.
Each floor has a tearoom space where residents can enjoy a simple cuppa or a delicious afternoon tea prepared especially for them, while fully equipped kitchenettes are situated throughout the home for visitors and families to make themselves a drink if they fancy one.
Always keen to add new experiences, Alex and his team introduced a ‘Smoothie of the Day’ to raise awareness during Nutrition and Hydration Week. “It was a fun and imaginative way for residents to try new things and it became a great topic of conversation. It has proved to be so popular that we now feature a smoothie on the daily breakfast menu. Residents love them because they are tasty,” says Alex, “but in addition they are packed full of vitamins and are also a great technique to help boost hydration.”
Alex’s person-centred approach to nutritional care gives Great Oaks a feeling of true homeliness. So much so, that the home’s little community often becomes
an extension of the family for residents and relatives.