We’re back with Head Chef – Paul Burns! Paul has spiced up the food offering at Ashton Manor by listening to what the residents want, tailoring dishes around their individual needs and certainly cooking up a storm for each meal.

Find out how we’ve turned dining into an experience for all of our residents.

State-of-the-art kitchen

It was crucial that we got the facilities at Ashton Manor up to specification with modern equipment to help Paul and his team create magic in the kitchen.

 “It’s all state of the art and no corners have been cut, we have more equipment than necessary at the moment, so we’re ready for when we hit full capacity”, Paul reveals, “I’ve had full reign over the kitchen and worked with the team to ensure we have everything we need”.

Outside of the kitchen, it was also important that we created comfortable dining spaces for our residents to enjoy their food. The dining rooms on every floor have been uniquely designed, so each one has a fresh and comfortable feel, where residents can sit back, socialise and enjoy what is being served that day. On arrival, you’ll notice cool hues of colour in the communal spaces, which promote a calming atmosphere to enjoy mealtimes.

Tailoring tastes

We understand how important mealtimes are for our residents and so in our efforts to make the dining experience the best it can be at Ashton Manor, we have regular meetings with the residents to really find out what makes their taste buds tick.

Paul explains that through these meetings he discovered the residents were hungry for an all-day breakfast. So, he made it happen!

“During the residents’ meeting they spoke up and asked for an all-day breakfast, so that’s what we did. Residents were invited down to pick and choose what they wanted, whenever they felt like it.”

And the normal menus have already been a hit. “The residents love traditional food like a roast dinner, soup, and fish and chips on a Friday”, Paul explains, “we always include a vegetarian option for each meal, as having the choice is appreciated”.

Paul works to a four-week menu which allows for variety without becoming repetitive, sticking to ‘Fish Fridays’ and roast dinners on Wednesdays and Sundays. But outside of those regular dishes, Paul works to mix it up, keeping things interesting.

When we get good feedback and residents asking for more of a particular dish they liked, we’ll cater to that. The team noticed that soup hits the spot for many, so Paul and his team quickly reacted by preparing fresh soups every day.

For residents who need special considerations, Paul is no stranger to making sure everyone is happy.

“We have a special diet, allergens and intolerances section on our likes and dislikes sheet, and we’ll prep and cook those meals separately to avoid cross-contamination. It’s the same with soft diets, we dress the food nicely on the plate, so it looks just as good as someone else’s meal.”

Reinvented mealtimes

Unlike other care homes we have ensured our mealtimes are resident led. ‘Resident led’ meals involve offering a lighter option at lunch, such as soup, a sandwich or an omelette, with the main or larger meal served in the evening.

Though this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for most people, in the care home sector the larger meal is often eaten at lunchtime and a lighter snack offered in the evening.

We wanted to change that.

Getting out of bed later in the day is common as we age. For many residents, lunch is their first meal of the day, so it doesn’t make sense to present them with a large roast.

Our reinvented mealtimes mean that our residents feel livelier in the daytime, they’re more willing to take part in activities and engage with carers and visitors. The outcome is our residents lead a fuller life with increased mobility, and with more uptake on activities they’re more likely to have a better nights’ sleep.

The experience of dining

“Overall, I want the residents’ dining experience to be like an event. I want them to feel like they can put their best clothes on like they’re going out for a meal (if they want to!)  – I want it to be special for them. This is Ashton Manor and it needs to be treated like a manor – the building is amazing, so the food should reflect that.” Paul Burns, Head Chef at Ashton Manor

Now that our new residents have settled in; they are starting to socialise in the ground floor dining room. Paul has already noticed how well they interact with each other: “People want to sit with each other and have a chat, we’ve had music playing – there’s even been dancing! They really bounce off each other and it’s lovely to watch”.

This is why the dining experience at Ashton Manor is so important, it’s more than just a meal, it becomes the social point to the day and brings everyone together.

As a care home that specialises in Dementia Care, it’s vital that we pay extra attention to residents who are living with it. When it comes to food, we know this can play a huge role in evoking happy memories, and so we talk to residents about food that was served at home and through their younger years, which Paul incorporates into mealtimes.

Paul and his team are also working on a book with images of each meal, to help residents remember exactly which dish they liked. In addition, we also use plates that are coloured differently to the tablecloths to help avoid confusion, making dinner times easier and more enjoyable.

As Paul puts it: “That’s the attention to detail we take for each person living here. We treat each person as an individual because every person is different”.


If you would like to find out more or book a tour, call us on 01524 566 007 or email us at enquiries@evermorecare.com.