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Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Healthcare team launches UK’s first nutritional toolkit for people living with dementia


Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Healthcare team launches UK’s first nutritional toolkit for people living with dementia

  • Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Healthcare business has launched “Dignified Dining” toolkit to provide exceptional nutritional care for people living with dementia
  • The toolkit includes ten nutritional guidelines focusing on Food, Service and Environment
  • Following a successful pilot scheme, Dignified Dining will be rolled out to over 60 care homes and hospitals throughout the business

The Healthcare business of Compass Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest catering firm, is marking National Dementia Awareness Week (15-21 May) by rolling out its “Dignified Dining” toolkit, in over 60 hospitals and care homes. This innovative initiative aims to provide exceptional nutritional care to people living with dementia. The toolkit outlines our ten key nutritional related guidelines, enabling residents and patients living with dementia to be given more personalised and specialist support in relation to their food provision, an essential part of their care.

In 2014, Compass Group sponsored research into dementia in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Disease International. The “Dementia Nutritional Report” highlighted the importance of nutrition to the clinical progression of dementia and how this affects the nutritional status of individuals.

Recent research into dementia states:

  • More than one in 12 people in the UK will be aged over 80 by 2039[1]
  • It is estimated that there are 7.7million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, with one new case every four seconds[2]
  • It is believed that approximately 135million people will be living with dementia by 2050[3]

Being aware of the challenges of providing food services for people living with dementia, the Compass Healthcare team developed the Dignified Dining toolkit, focusing on three areas: Food, Service and Environment. The toolkit has been successfully piloted at two care home sites, over a period of three months.

As part of the pilot scheme, catering and care was provided at both sites with joint training in dementia awareness being provided by Alzheimer’s Society UK. Some of the activities during the pilot include:

  • Food Passport: Compass Healthcare colleagues worked with friends and relatives of residents to build up a clear picture of each person’s daily eating preferences and routines in relation to meal times before they had dementia, resulting in the creation of an individualised nutritional care plan for each resident.’
  • Food Service Journey: The creation of a system which is used to process map the journey of a meal from the time the meal is prepared to the time it is served. This encourages the catering team to be flexible in serving food when the resident requires it.
  • DMAT (Dementia Mealtime Assessment Tool): A checklist carried out by the chef manager to identify common behavioural eating difficulties during mealtimes, Information gathered was then used to generate suggestions on how eating difficulties can be overcome, so residents are able to eat independently for as long as possible.

Overall, the pilot scheme enabled the sites to gain a better understanding on the nutritional needs of each individual resident, it enhanced the resident’s mealtime experience and the tools facilitated the provision of individualised nutritional care.

Steve Cenci, Managing Director of Healthcare at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “We are extremely proud to be launching the Dignified Dining toolkit at our client sites throughout our healthcare business. Managing the nutritional intake of individuals living with dementia is an essential part of their care. Our pilot schemes demonstrated the benefits of understanding more about the patient’s past, as well as their current condition, in order to provide them with a food offer they wanted and ultimately would eat. We are looking forward to rolling out the toolkit to enable our team to provide exceptional nutritional care for each individual patient and resident living with dementia.”

Maxine Cartz, Dietitian at Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “It is well documented that people living with dementia can struggle to meet their nutritional needs and they can experience significant problems with eating and drinking. This toolkit pulls together the latest research and best practice to facilitate the provision of individualised nutritional care for people living with dementia and provides tools for our colleagues to improve nutritional intake.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society said: “As dementia progresses, eating and drinking can become a real issue. Poor nutrition and dehydration can lead to weight loss, vulnerability to infection, increased confusion, and urinary tract infections which can worsen the symptoms of dementia.

“Initiatives like Dignified Dining, which work creatively to help people with dementia to enjoy food, eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated can play a role in helping people with dementia to remain healthy.  Most residents in care homes have dementia, so it is important that all staff, from cooks to care workers to managers, have a good understanding of dementia and are aware of the best ways to support people with the condition so they can eat and drink well.”

In addition to the Dignified Dining toolkit, the Compass Healthcare team is also fundraising for research into dysphagia (difficulties in swallowing) and has already raised £50,000.


For more information contact:

UK Communications Team

Compass Group UK & Ireland


01895 554 999


Notes to Editors:

Case studies:

Food Passport

Case study one:

The food passports that were given out to each resident during the pilot scheme states their likes and dislikes in what they eat. On one occasion, a chef manager spoke to the daughter of one resident who had not eaten properly for a few months. The chef manager enquired about his likes and dislikes and the environment he ate in at home. The daughter confirmed that he was not a fussy eater and that he enjoyed eating while reading the newspaper. The resident was given a magazine at lunch time and started flicking through the pages while he ate. The resident managed to finish his entire dinner and dessert. The resident is now given a newspaper to flick through while eating at mealtimes.

Case study two:

Through her food passport, one resident explained that she didn’t like many of the meals provided and that she really missed the dishes she used to make for her family, one of her favourites bring cold corned beef with chips and fried egg. This particular meal was not on the menu, but our chefs made it for the lady. Other residents noticed the meal and also requested it for themselves. The dish encouraged conversation between residents around the dinner table and the meal is now also offered on an alternative menu.

Observation through DMAT (Dementia Mealtime Assessment Tool)

When observation was carried out using the DMAT tool, it was discovered that one resident who eats well decided that he did not want to finish his sandwiches. When he noticed the dessert he pushed his main dish to the side to eat the dessert instead. As a result, carers were asked to hold back on the desserts until they were sure that residents had finished their main food. Consequently, residents seemed to eat more of their main course.

 Mealtime observations

It was noticed that there was a drop in the number of residents that enjoyed afternoon tea, and the amount of food waste increased. Following discussions between carers and managers, it was decided to link tea to a baking activity. Residents will get together with carers to bake dishes for the afternoon tea. Overall, residents enjoyed the activity as it created a more opportunities to communicate with each other and encouraged them to eat more of the food they made.


[1] Statistic released by Office of National Statistics (Oct 2015)

[2] Dementia Nutritional Report by Compass Group UK & Ireland and Alzheimer’s Disease International

[3] Dementia Nutritional Report by Compass Group UK & Ireland and Alzheimer’s Disease International

UK’s first nutritional toolkit for people living with dementia