Since my original visit to Chelsea Court Place just after it opened in November 2016, when there was just one resident, the upmarket elderly care home run by Innovative Aged Care has celebrated its first anniversary and is thriving.
All 15 of its luxury en suite apartments are taken, and the Day Club is full too. With the ambience of a boutique 5-star hotel or exclusive private members’ club, Chelsea Court Place fuses cutting edge dementia-friendly interior design with state of the art technology and a full programme of activities and events to enhance residents’ social, physical and mental stimulation. Situated on the corner of Sydney Street and King’s Road, this beautifully appointed facility is a sanctuary of calm offering residential, 24-hour bespoke nursing and day care to individuals living with dementia, with the aim of enhancing quality of life.
Thanks to the support of friendly and attentive staff, residents and their guests enjoy exceptional service throughout the day or night – and that very much includes delicious, restaurant-quality food.
Mealtimes are always a cause for celebration at Chelsea Court Place, where the value of good nutrition and hydration is never underestimated. The kitchen is
still led by the award winning duo of Executive Chef Matt Dodge (runner up, NACC Care Chef of the Year 2015) and Head Chef Alex Morte (NACC Care Chef of the Year 2016).
Starting with a blank canvas when the home launched 16 months ago, the pair have enjoyed developing the menus to ensure everybody’s preferences and nutritional requirements are met. Lunch is the main meal of the day, with residents being invited to make their selection in the morning from the daily menu: there is a choice of starters – always including soup and homemade bread – meat, fish and vegetarian main meal options, three desserts and a cheese board.
“The residents are welcome to choose whatever they want to eat,” says Matt. “If it’s not on the menu we will go and get it.
“So, for example, our resident vegetarian doesn’t usually choose the vegetarian option on the menu – she asks for something else, which we’re happy to prepare for her. One lady wants curry practically every day,” he continues.
“We stock quite a lot of the essentials so we’ve usually got what we need to meet most requests.”
The menus are based around fresh, seasonal produce sourced from local suppliers where possible, all grown organically in the UK – including the herbs, some of which are foraged by Matt! Freshly baked cakes and other snacks are available 24 hours a day in the café area for residents and visitors to enjoy whenever they like.
The kitchen brigade loves nothing more than planning a mouthwatering meal for special events. At the time of writing Chelsea Court Place had just celebrated the life and poetry of Robert Burns with an afternoon of traditional Scottish fun, kicked off by the addressing of the haggis and a ‘wee dram’ of whisky. The Scottish lunch menu didn’t disappoint, with Matt and Alex coming up trumps with Scotch broth, beetroot-glazed Scottish smoked salmon, haggis & whisky sauce served with neeps & tatties, finished off with raspberry cranachan cheesecake.
The luxurious facilities at Chelsea Court Place include a tastefully appointed private dining room and restful indoor garden & sunroom which are both available for the residents to use, giving them the opportunity to host a dinner party or Champagne reception for family and friends. Menus are planned with the kitchen team so that residents can have as much input as they would have done previously when entertaining in their own residences (but without the clearing up afterwards, as Matt points out!).
Food features highly when it comes to activities and outings. Regular baking classes and cookie making are popular; residents got involved with pumpkin carving at Halloween and making edible Christmas decorations; indoor gardening in the sunroom; and sushi masterclasses have recently been introduced (complementing the Japanese language lessons that are among the cognitive and sensory therapies on offer to residents and Day Club members). Carers take the residents out to visit local farmers’ markets, go for afternoon tea or a pub lunch, or simply wander down the King’s Road to soak up the atmosphere of one of London’s most eclectic streets.
“The food here is amazing, but the residents still love to go out,” says Head
of Wellness at Chelsea Court Place,
“Any destination that involves food is great for socialising.
“Having said that, they enjoy eating-in too. The private dining room is really popular for family celebrations, and also friendships formed here – the residents like to invite people from their friendship groups to dine with them.”
Gabby, who also works for the CQC and has worked for many other care homes, says she’s never seen anything like the food at Chelsea Court Place. “The thought that goes into every meal, and the presentation – it’s incredible.”
In fact significant improvements in appetite and health are far from uncommon in residents who have been at Chelsea Court Place for any length of time. People who previously ate
very little, or relied on soft foods and shakes before moving in, are eating
whole foods again and enjoying mealtimes as a social occasion.
“Matt and Alex are great at keeping an eye on who’s eating what and how much, and will quickly alert the carers if they spot any changes in appetite,” says Gabby.
The food service is constantly evolving to ensure residents have the best experience. An afternoon tea event has been introduced every other Friday, which the residents love, and Matt would like to see a breakfast island bar with induction installed in the restaurant area to add a bit of theatre to mealtimes. “We could do live cooking with the residents and finish off dishes there. That way they can really be part of the meal service,” he says.
Taking bespoke care to the next level, Chelsea Court Place has partnered with the University of West London’s Dementia Care Centre Innovation Lab to develop a series of programmes based on the latest research, techniques and innovations to deliver the very best early stage therapy for people living with dementia. The innovative curriculum – available to residents and Day Club members alike – comprises five programmes: Sense and Sensory, which includes activities surrounding taste, touch, hearing, seeing and smelling; Mind and Memory, which focuses on new learning; Arts and Culture, which has already resulted in an in-house art gallery showcasing the masterpieces produced by participants; Eldergym, to keep the body active with the likes of tai chi, indoor bowls and zumba; and Culinary Masters, which gives people the opportunity to prepare and taste food and drink, guided by the chefs.
In August 2017 this pioneering home launched Beyond Words, a year-long study with the University of Roehampton which is investigating the use of music as a form of communication for late stage dementia, and in November it appointed a Head of Guest Services to oversee the various amenities designed to enhance residents’ enjoyment of life.
Chelsea Court Place has been such a phenomenal success for Innovative Aged Care that there are already plans to expand with several new sites under consideration in the Capital.
With his passion for creating food that is celebrated by the residents and a determination to improve the health and wellbeing of older people through optimal nutrition, Matt is looking forward to bringing the Chelsea Court Place style of culinary excellence to each new facility. “The hope is that other care homes and groups can be inspired,” he says.
So, watch this space for the next instalment!