Care Homes that Care
How to find a care home that provides good and varied meals for older veggies and vegans.
Care Homes that Care – Your Essential UK List
In recent years an urgent debate has been taking place about how well older people are treated in the care system.
One key aspect of this debate focusses on the question: if we accept that care homes generally offer good standards of care and a safe environment, then why is it that almost all of us would dread entering one or placing our parents in one?
Most studies suggest that the underlying problem is that as care homes increasingly operate according to standard procedures then all too frequently residents no longer feel involved in decisions that determine the quality of their life. As a result, residents can lose their sense of independence and dignity.
For older vegetarian and vegans, these issues often come to prominence when their diet is compromised. This might be due to a lack of knowledge about what vegetarians and vegans eat and/or reflect a very limited range of meals.
Whatever the reason, having their dietary choice compromised can cause great upset and distress. A person’s decision to be a vegetarian or vegan is likely to reflect deeply held ethical, health or religious convictions. For an older person, these convictions will have been at the core of their identity for many years. Seen in this light, it is clear that respecting and supporting an older person’s vegetarianism or veganism is incredibly important. It is an essential part of recognising who they are and treating them with dignity.
Both of these issues are imperatives that drive the work of the charity Vegetarian for Life. Founded in 2008, the objective of this young and growing charity is to improve the quality of life of the UK’s older vegetarians and vegans.
Consequently, it seeks to work closely with the care industry to ensure that chefs and cooks have a thorough understanding of what comprises good and varied vegetarian and vegan diets. The main mechanism for this work is the charity’s UK List – a geographical listing of ‘veggie and vegan friendly’ members. With over 800 List members this an excellent resource for anyone trying to find a suitable care home.
The List includes care homes, retirement complexes, food suppliers and other services that cater for older people and follow the charity’s Code of Good Practice. This Code of Good Practice outlines the ingredients that are acceptable for vegetarians and vegans, identifies common stumbling blocks and also encourages the provision of choice.
The charity provides UK List members with a wide range of information, of which the 32-page guide Catering for Older Vegetarians and Vegans is one of the most popular. UK List members also have the opportunity to send their chefs on the catering courses that the charity organises and subsidises – an excellent way to gain some practical experience!