Specialism: The home supports both men and women with a learning disability, some of whom may have additional conditions, for example, anglemans syndrome,
Scoring top marks in a Food Hygiene inspection in 2017, has reinforced the enthusiasm for healthy eating shared by the people who live at Fleetwood House in Littlehampton, and resulted in the service winning a gold award in West Sussex Council’s healthy eating campaign.
The inspector was so favourably impressed with the way the Fleetwood House team were promoting healthy eating among the people they support that he suggested they apply for an extra inspection by the local authority under their ‘Eat Out Eat Well’ award scheme, part of a nationwide drive to improve healthy eating.
Michal Bratek, who leads the team at Fleetwood House, said: “We always work on the basis that the menu we offer to the people we support should feature the kind of meals we’d enjoy eating ourselves, and this has certainly paid off.
“I was always confident that we would do well in these awards, but we were stunned to receive a gold award on our very first attempt.
“The key to our success is that the vast majority of the food we serve is prepared from scratch. It’s all really tasty and almost all home-made, so we can control exactly what goes into it and ensure the people we support are able to eat in a way that positively benefits their health.”
One of the women who lives at Fleetwood House and has Down’s syndrome, has seen a healthy loss of almost half her body weight over the past two years.
Michal said: “People with Down’s syndrome face a greater challenge than most when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight but it is just as important for them, so we – and she – were delighted when friends at her club started to notice the difference. She is just thrilled with what she’s achieved, and is now altogether more energetic and willing to participate in outdoor activities.”
Many of the men and women who live at Fleetwood House have learning disabilities which make it impossible for them to be self-reliant when it comes to their diet, but Michal and his team involve them as much as possible in the selection of the food they eat.
Food choices for the week are discussed at group meetings where individuals are able to use a pictorial system to indicate their personal preferences, and those who can also participate in weekly shopping trips where they are supported to choose the healthiest options available.
Michal said that every member of his 20-strong team has a vital part to play in Fleetwood House’s continuing drive for improvement, whether they are in the kitchen creating the delicious healthy meals they all eat, or working with the people they support to choose and buy the raw ingredients.
In the Eat Out Eat Well scheme participants are judged on how well they promote healthy over less healthy options, including minimising the use of added salt and sugar, choosing low-fat over high-fat alternatives, ensuring meals contain adequate fibre (including a minimum five-a-day of fruit and vegetables) and provide a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats, and how they encourage an appropriate fluids intake.
Michal said: “We all love our food here, and we love to eat well. Meal times are a happy communal activity, and variety is the spice of life – we enjoy a remarkably varied menu.
“Knowing that we’re helping the people we support to live healthier lives at the same time as keeping them happy and content around the dining table just puts the gilt on our (healthy) gingerbread.”