Coca Cola _ June 2019

5-Star Care Home Cooking

Dean Haffenden is the dining service coordinator at Sunrise of Eastbourne. The private nursing home won Establishment of the Year 2015 and came third in the NACC regional south east cook-off final. Thanks to Dean’s culinary talents and forwardthinking, Sunrise of Eastbourne offers residents a five-star menu.

New residents and guests are always pleasantly surprised when they visit Sunrise of Eastbourne. Thanks to its beautiful restaurant, the smell of freshly baked bread and cookies wafting through the premises and residents helping themselves to a latte one would be forgiven in thinking they are in a hotel – not a care home for the elderly!

dean haffenden

“The residents of Sunrise of Eastbourne are here for a new adventure – it’s the next step of their lives – not the end of it,” explains Dean. “Most require assisted living – they just need that bit of care and support through food, drink and nutrition. Therefore, my aim is to give them a dining experience they’ll enjoy – and which they deserve. I don’t want them sitting in their room eating by themselves, I want them to have the same wonderful experience they would if they ate out. And we can provide that for every course, every day – including waitress service.”

Breakfast is served from 7.30-10am and it ranges from a full English to kippers or pain au chocolat. Lunch is from 12-1.30pm and residents have the choice of two starters, two main courses and four puddings – or there is a lighter menu of omelettes and jacket potatoes. Evening meal is served from 5-6.30pm and has the same number of courses, plus a vegetarian option. Residents are allowed to choose a glass of wine (alcoholic and non alcoholic) too to complement their meal.

“Not all of our residents can drink alcohol but they still want the taste and pleasure of having wine with dinner,” said Dean.

And if that’s not enough, the home has fresh bread and biscuits baked daily and beverages, including espressos to hot chocolate, available all day. Every afternoon Dean and his team of two chefs and one trainee chef make scones or victoria sponge, or have cheese and biscuits available.

“Although every course is served with green veg and a potato dish, we do something different every day,” explains Dean, who has been at the care home for three years. “But every Friday we have beer battered cod or haddock – and the residents love it. In fact, everything I make has been approved by them. I meet the residents council (about 40 residents) once a month to sit down and discuss the menu. If there is stuff on there they don’t like I change it, or if there is something not on there that they’d like to see, I put that on.” 

The diet of the residents is paramount to Dean. He and his team keep track of all their 96 residents dietary requirements via the diet notification board. It contains the residents picture with their diet card that is given to Dean before they move in. It informs him and his team of any allergies, their medical condition and even their likes and dislikes.

“I print off all the ingredients for every recipe we make so my chefs know not to add anything else to them. I’m very strict on that as it’s crucial we know what is going in a dish and I know it’s safe for my residents to eat – especially as they sometimes won’t know if it contains something they aren’t allowed to eat. It’s our job to know – not their’s – that’s why I have regular meetings with all the residents about their diet plan,” said Dean. “For example, if one of our residents has an allergy to fish, if they order our spag bol they’ll automatically think it is safe – but it isn’t. We put in Worcester sauce and that has a fish base ingredient in. So keeping alert and on top of their dietary needs is crucial.” 

The same level of attention and care is needed for those residents who suffer with Dysphagia [difficulties in swallowing] with Dean making sure they are not alienated at mealtimes.

“I make puree sandwiches, scones and even broccoli and mold them to look like they should,” explains Dean. “I want the residents to see what their food looks like it – even if it has been pureed and needs eating with a spoon. That way, when we have high tea, they too can have a salmon sandwich and scone and don’t feel left out.” 

The same goes for residents with weight issues. “If a resident who is on a diet orders something a little too stodgy, like a steak pie, I’ll make sure we give them a smaller portion but add more greens or salad so as not to draw attention to the portion size and feel singled out,” said Dean.

The care home has a dementia neighbourhood but the residents are served the same food as everybody else.

“They just have a carer who sits with them and may encourage or help them to eat,” adds Dean.

Dean and his team make sure the residents don’t miss out on special occasions. They celebrate Christmas with traditional turkey and all the trimmings, along with salmon. They have a piper who pipes in the haggis in honour of Burns Night and for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations they are planning on getting out the best china and weather permitting holding a garden party with cocktails and canapes.

“I love working here,” said Dean. “Not only do you have the personal touch with residents but because there is so much pressure around nutrition you never stop learning – and for me, that’s a dream job.” 


Beetroot & Watercress Salad,  Asparagus in Parma Ham


Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, Salmon & Spinach Wellington


Crème Brûlée, Chocolate Sponge

Black Pudding with Mustard Sauce        liver & Bacon

Find the Confit Duck recipe here

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