The catering team at St Andrew’s Healthcare have demonstrated their commitment to improvement by launching a new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with HIT Training.

The scheme – which will see 10 new apprentices shortly start a range of qualifications from level 2 commis chef to level 4 Hospitality Management qualifications – aims to develop our chefs’ practical skills and knowledge.

Every day at St Andrew’s, the team of award-winning catering staff keep nearly 900 patients and staff fed and hydrated, including our 40 dysphagia patients who require texture modified foods. All meals are cooked freshly within our eight local kitchens.

The new apprenticeship schemes have been developed to incorporate the new Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality / Institute of Hospitality level 2 Specialist Award for Chefs in Health and Social Care, which looks at the vital areas of nutrition and hydration and food modification in a healthcare setting.

St Andrew’s are one of the first to deliver the Specialist Award, and the learning programme will underpin the great dysphagia food offer already in place at the charity.

The apprenticeship partnership launch was attended by Steve Beckworth from the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality, and Paul Mannering HIT Training Academy Principal. Both Paul and Steve were extremely impressed by the levels of food produced for the service users on site at St Andrew’s Healthcare, and were amazed to learn that 97% of the menu is made from scratch. They were also impressed by the charity’s Soil Association ‘Food for Life’ silver status, and the fact that the uses organic minced beef and milk for all catering.

Paul Mannering commented: “I cannot wait to work with the chefs on the programmes as they are so professional and demonstrate great passion working with fresh ingredients.”

Steve Beckworth added: “I am amazed at the level of finish of the dysphagia food produced on site using the bespoke moulds, in order to meet the needs of the Huntington’s Disease patients. These allow the service users to make an informed choice of what they wanted to eat and to eat with dignity, identifying all the food on their plates.”

Mark Wright, Patient Services Catering Manager at St Andrew’s, explained: ”I am delighted we are able to work in partnership with HIT training and the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality to develop our chef’s practical skills and knowledge, and being able to contextualise this into the care sector through this great new qualification.

“General awareness of therapeutic diets is increasing rapidly, as well as a focus on chefs in this environment being supported to ‘texture-modify’ food for individuals with dysphagia. This is changing lives – good luck to the St Andrew’s apprentices!”

To find out more about St Andrew’s Healthcare here