Continued Professional Development for Caterers in Health & Social Care

Derek Johnson, Nutrition and Hydration Associates and co-lead for Nutrition and Hydration Week, shares his thoughts on the need for Continued Professional Development for Caterers in Health and Social Care

The health and care catering sector requires a Continued Professional Development programme that can be recognised by the regulator, the Care Quality Commission, and subsequently by the commissioners of services, as being the standard required to provide appropriate and safe person centred nutrition and hydration care.

Catering and the recognition of the importance of nutrition and hydration in health and social care will always be regarded as an after thought as there is no requirement for mandatory training or continued professional development for those involved in its provision, unlike other professionals engaged in health and social care.

The development of the NVQ level 2 Practical Cookery course for health & social care will help enhance this, but it is the managers of the catering services and responsible people for the provision of nutritional care ( i.e. where there is no catering manager) who require a recognised Continued Professional Development pathway and standard.

The Care Quality Commission’s Supporting information and guidance:

Qualifications and continuing professional development requirements for registered managers and for the practitioners they supervise states –

“Generally in environments where regulated activities are being carried on, it is the responsibility of individuals, together with the support of their employing organisation and the registered manager, to ensure they maintain and develop their skills and knowledge at all times to ensure competency.”

“To maintain professional registration the applicant must maintain evidence of their own ongoing continuing professional development (CPD) as laid down by their professional body. The applicant must also follow the code of professional conduct laid down by the relevant regulatory body.”

“CPD offers an assurance that the worker is maintaining and developing their skills and knowledge in order to support people who use services.”

Competent managers and staff are regularly referred too in CQC guidance, yet the catering sector does not have a standard or scheme to demonstrate this.

For the health and social care sector, and also for the education sector there are currently no CPD schemes or even recommended initial qualifications for managing or overseeing the provision of food and drink to vulnerable people in health care, social care or even schools. The two main professional bodies for healthcare caterers- Hospital Caterers Association and the social care sector – National Association of Care Catering have had suggestions put forward but have not progressed them any further.

Nutrition and Hydration Week has advocated that Continued Professional Development is vital to ensure good nutrition and hydration care is provided in all health and social care settings from its outset. Last year, it produced an outline pro forma for people to complete to evidence their CPD work in this area and a Frequently Asked Questions guide. However, there is still no standard or recommendation of what and how much CPD is required in the UK, one association even awards points for attending meetings, but to what purpose? There are CPD schemes in place in both the USA and Canada to ensure CPD is maintained, and now is the time for one in the UK.

The Way Forward

Develop a CPD scheme that meets the demands of a 21st century health and social care service that also encompasses the schools sector. The latter is included as delivering key messages early is vital in the health of the nation and school meal services are integral to this.

To enable a scheme to meet these requirements then building the competencies required around the 8 core competencies the Canadian Society for Nutrition management use would be a good base line to start from. They identified the following categories of skills, knowledge and behaviour common to all managers who have an overview for nutrition:

  • Professionalism
  • Quality Management
  • Nutrition and Healthy Living
  • Clinical Nutrition
  • Food Service Systems Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Financial/Business Management
  • Marketing and Promotion

Below is a short summary of what each competence covers and and idea of how it could be adapted to a UK setting.

Professionalism – This would including membership of the relevant profession organisation; Management behaviour; Staff management – this would be aligned to the standards required by Skills for Care & CQC guidance.

Quality Management – HACCP & food safety; Adherence to government standards including CQC requirements.

Nutrition and Healthy Living – Knowledge of what constitutes good nutrition & hydration; Nutritional needs of a healthy and at risk population; In addition to the current issues facing the population of both over and under nutrition.

Clinical Nutrition – Demonstrate a food first approach; Understanding the role of nutritional screening & its outcomes; Knowledge of the role of food supplements and supplementary drinks; knowledge of texture modification of food and fluids; Adapt menus to meet the needs of a personalised care plan relating to food and fluid intake; Participation as a member of the health or care team in care planning,

Catering Systems Management – Participate in menu planning, plan menus according to established criteria and menu planning guidelines; Adapt regular menus for modified diets;

Food and equipment purchasing; Receiving, storing and stock control; Recipe development and standardisation;

Audit client meals for quality, portion control; Evaluate a cleaning program; Co-ordinate operational activities within the catering department and with other departments; Investigate new preparation, service, products and technology.

Human Resources Management – Participate in recruiting, hiring, orienting, training, evaluating, disciplining and dismissal of personnel; Development and revision of job descriptions and performance standards; Supervise personnel using in line with the Health & Social Care Act Regulation 18; Identify training needs and staff development programs, deliver in-house training

Financial/Business Management – Participate in the financial management of the department participate in the development, evaluation and revision of budgets.

Marketing and Promotion – Participate in marketing initiatives i.e. key focus weeks for the respective sectors i.e. Nutrition and Hydration Week; Participate in activities to enhance the public’s knowledge of food and nutrition.

These competencies would then become the standard to be achieved, plus driving up the professionalism and standard of nutritional care provision.

How could this be achieved?

Evidence would have to be provided that education / activity has been gained / taken place in the competency areas over a set period to maintain the person’s competency. There would be an annual target of points achieved for various activities throughout a year, by managing the scheme this way it would enable practical activities to be more readily included rather than hours attending training sessions or online courses. This would encourage positive actions rather being solely based on classroom / meeting activities.

In the 21st century, online registration for the CPD would be required with evidence submitted along with a form detailing activities etc. The professional associations could in line with any scheme have point values for attending meetings, forums and exhibitions etc. on their various invitation and marketing materials. It may encourage people to collect CPD certification at the end of events rather than them leaving it behind as often happens now.

Details would have to be in place to ensure a rounded CPD over the year is achieved i.e. solely attending exhibitions would not achieve CPD.

Trade journals i.e. Cost Sector Catering, The Caterer would be encouraged to produce education articles, which if read and reviewed in full on line would contribute to CPD, a route many health professionals utilise to maintain their professionalism.

Webinars could be developed especially for cross sector topics and these would be part of the CPD programme.

Adhering to other guidance from other professional bodies would also be encouraged i.e. Environmental Health re Food Safety & Allergens, as would introducing scheme like Nutrition Champions to the organisation or becoming a Nutrition Champion in the workplace.

The Challenge, the dream …..

There is an over arching body that could oversee this scheme the PS100. It is cross sector and the CPD should add another level of professionalism to the cost sector sector and ultimately the aim would be to change the way other professionals in the sector regard the value of food and drink.

If there was a successful CPD scheme for catering managers and responsible manager in care, then this could potential become a pathway for staff to develop competencies for career progression.

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