The benchmark for staff

It’s often said the benchmark for staff in a care home is to treat the residents as if they were one of their own family.

And for Longlands Care Home cook Julia James that’s certainly the case as her own sister, Lucy, took up a place there whilst recuperating after hospital treatment.

Lucy suffers from a number of health problems and her weight had plummeted to just 4st 1lb when she arrived at Longlands.

“When I saw her name on the list of new residents I was relieved as I knew she would receive good care,” said Julia. “In just five weeks her weight rose to 6st 7lb, her colour had come back and she looked much healthier. It was such a relief.”

Food is an important element of everyday at Longlands and Julia can cater for up to 60 residents at a time.

She said: “it’s very rewarding to see a resident who has come in very weak and frail and then after a few weeks have put on a bit of weight and look much healthier.”

Previously, she worked as a cook in a hospital kitchen and made the switch to Longlands because she wanted greater involvement.

“At the hospital we were effectively stuck in a kitchen for ten hours. Here you get to take the food to the residents, you get to chat to them and get to know their particular preferences,” said Julia. “It’s a more homely atmosphere and you feel part of a team.”

As part of her role, Julia prepares dishes from scratch, ensuring they have the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins. Longlands has supported her to gain National Vocational Qualifications in food preparation and attend courses and workshops on topics such as preparing deserts for diabetics.

“I enjoy researching different recipes that ensure a proper balanced diet including if residents have particular food allergies or particular needs for example hal hal or vegan or vegetarian,” said Julia.

“Advice is aways changing and you have to adapt. Ice cream used to be recommended as a desert but is now seen as too sugary for some so I replaced it with a lemon cheesecake which proved really popular.”

Julia has also been able to implement some tips she learned in the hospital kitchen.

“Care homes often avoid baked beans or peas because the skins can cause a problem for some. There’s a technique where you can puree and then sieve the vegetables to safely remove the skin and so now beans and peas are back on the menu.”

With six grandchildren to keep her on her toes Julia doesn’t get a lot of “downtime” but when she does she’s happy dreaming up new recipes for the residents of Longlands.

“We do all the traditional meals like cooked breakfasts, roast dinners and fish and chips and also like to provide something different for residents to try,” said Julia. “At the minute I’m working on a healthy, nutritious stir fry you can do in the oven.” 

Why Choose Constantia Healthcare?

Residential & Nursing Care

Providing a homely, safe and secure environment for your loved ones

Respite & Day Care

Looking after your loved ones while you have a well-earned rest and break

Alzheimers & Dementia Care

Specialist care for people with complex needs at Roseleigh in Middlesbrough

Varied Activity Programme

Stimulating body and mind with an ever-changing schedule