Quality of Meals in Care Homes

Anyone else experiencing or noticing poor/shoddy quality of meals being provided to receivers of care in care homes?

Lost count of the times I have asked “what’s that?” when meals are brought around to my Mum.

Are there any legal requirements anywhere? Is there any organisation supposed to monitor this?

And why oh why are care homes unable to provide a diet plan for diabetics?

Any comments welcome…

CQC … Regulation 14 … is your starting point :
Regulation 14: Meeting nutritional and hydration needs - Care Quality Commission


The intention of this regulation is to make sure that people who use services have adequate nutrition and hydration to sustain life and good health and reduce the risks of malnutrition and dehydration while they receive care and treatment.

To meet this regulation, where it is part of their role, providers must make sure that people have enough to eat and drink to meet their nutrition and hydration needs and receive the support they need to do so.

People must have their nutritional needs assessed and food must be provided to meet those needs. This includes where people are prescribed nutritional supplements and/or parenteral nutrition. People’s preferences, religious and cultural backgrounds must be taken into account when providing food and drink.

CQC can prosecute for a breach of this regulation or a breach of part of the regulation if a failure to meet the regulation results in avoidable harm to a person using the service or a person using the service is exposed to significant risk of harm. In these instances, CQC can move directly to prosecution without first serving a warning notice. Additionally, CQC may also take any other regulatory action. See the offences section for more detail.

CQC must refuse registration if providers cannot satisfy us that they can and will continue to comply with this regulation.

One would think that a care home ought to be able, if not required, to provide food suitable for people with diabetes. Having said that, I was often surprised to see the number of times my mother was given sugary hot chocolate drinks, starchy main courses and sponge pudding with jam and custard for desert while in the local hospital!

Agreed, mystery “soup”, stodgy or fatty and sugary stuff served up in a haphazard way…all the wrong stuff and very little or no choice in advance.
One would also expect these homes to have the highest level of hygiene ratings too but this is also not the case surprisingly.

A sample of mystery stodge served up… it shows what many homes are getting away with…

"A plateful of what looked and tasted like mashed potato. No salad garnish or anything else present !!! I asked a staff member what it was meant to be but they were unsure what it was. Apparently “Cheese and Potato Pie”. Pull the other one…


There is a quick and simple solution to this, and you are now using it. That plate looks disgusting. Make a complaint to the Care Quality Commission.

How about taking a sample pot next time?

Department of Health have said that everyone should be eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
Does the home do a menu?
Offer any choice?

My mother’s care home used to make a big deal of their “nutritious, home-cooked meals”. TBH, most of the cooked meals left a lot to be desired (mince just cooked in water, “roast” potatoes still cold and hard in the middle etc.). Despite raising the matter many times, nothing seemed to improve.

Now they have moved over to buying “ready meals” in bulk from a national company that supplies homes, hospitals etc. Having seen the four-week menu plan left with my mother, we both got quite excited at the potential improvement in quality and choice - and were prepared to forego the “home cooked” aspect if it meant better food! However, there hasn’t been much improvement in the cooked meals, so I am despairing …

If schools can produce appetising and nutritious meals on a limited budget (and can win awards for it), then why not care homes???

I think simplification would help a lot. How about a choice of, say, ham, eggs, sausages or fish fingers with potatoes and veg. That’s the sort of food I was brought up on and it’s difficult to get wrong.

As a vegetarian I would be happy with that cheese and potato pie, preferably with stronger flavoured cheese and definitely with some veg or salad. I have seen a lot of much worse foods served in care homes and hospitals. I’ve also seen appetizing looking foods which I have been told are actually very dry. I have seen microwave ready meals in hospitals where the potatoes were still raw - clearly the manufacturers don’t test them often enough. But the big problem with bought in microwavable meals is that the staff overcook them as a matter of course adding an extra minute, which is a very long time for a single meal in a microwave and makes what would have been a nice meal almost inedible.

I’m wondering where the food waste bin is?! You might accidentally on purpose stumble across it???

Yes…all good comments. Thank you.

We are on the case at the moment…ours also seems to be one of the homes switching over to an external delivery system rather than cooking on the premises, with a new menu promised soon.

CQC is an option if needed. Maybe Jamie Oliver as standby…

They did take action after the manager was approached…but waiting to see just how “nutrituious” the new menu will be and if the new system is any good. (basically done to save costs of course…isn’t it all…!!)

Wondering if a menu for Diabetics will actually materialise…

Again, to be perfectly honest, I’m not so worried about whether my mother’s meals are “nutritious” (she’s managed to reach her mid 90s on a diet typical for her generation) - I would just like them to look and taste appetising!

To give the care home its due, they do keep her supplied with fresh fruit (and I take in the crisps and confectionery!) and the breakfasts and teas aren’t bad - I just wish the main meal of the day was something she could look forward to and enjoy.

Not much to ask … is it?

The diet typical of her generation was healthy and nutritious. Only the other day they were talking about the wartime diet being the healthiest in history.

It shouldn’t be difficult to make bought in meals look and taste nice.

Can’t think of anything to help with the appearance but how about a taking in a selection of condiments to make it taste less bland. My partner is kept supplied with paprika and mayonnaise but there are all sorts of pickles, chutneys, dried herbs and spices and sauces out there. People tend to give older people more bland food when they really need stronger flavours to compensate for their waning senses.

The food served up in Hubby’s nursing home is a mixture of looking quite appetising to awful. The Sunday lunch always seems good. Not to how he was used to,( he always enjoyed my Sunday lunch especially, ) but he has forgotten that. Yesterday he had semolina for pud. Looked awful. Even a spoonful of jam would have made a difference. They didn’t have any jam?! Other days the puds seem OK. Cake and custard a lot. He will eat it if they don’t say its cake and custard, but if they do he says not again Im sick of it. How certain things stick with him. I always take ice cream in. He loves it. Name all over the tub so he can always have some. They can’t grumble if I have purchased it. A nice one like carte dor. I also have low salt for him. Told the CQC how it differs.

I agree, no one in our family travels anywhere without a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce. Just a drop or 2 improves anything

I used to think the same about Marmite: until I tried it in scrambled eggs, the taste was fine, but only a blind person could eat it - closest thing to a babies nappy I’ve ever seen on a plate. :ohmy:

Another few hours spent at Soton General today, I hate that place more each time I go, eventually found a disabled parking space at the opposite corner of the hospital to where we wanted to be. The disabled spaces that we used to use are now in a staff car park, they were all empty bar one. :unamused:

Edit: Apologies to the OP, I thought I was posting in “March Roll Call”. :silly:

Hi Ayjay,

Didn’t realise you were a fellow sufferer of the Southampton General Experience. I don’t think it’s possible to hate it any more than I do now. I used to have fantasies of firebombing it for the benefit of everyone in its catchment area.

They try to tell me they’re no worse than anywhere else. They are. Much, much worse.

I’d better leave it at that before the thought of them winds me up too much.