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The Natural Choice for Bespoke Health and Social Care Compliance

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Embracing Veganuary in the Care Sector

Published On:

19 January 2024

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In recent years, Veganism has gained immense popularity focussing on personal health, welfare of animals and environmental impact. With the month of January being Veganuary, we wanted to take a look at how this is supported in the Health and Social Care Sector.

Care providers across the UK, governed by regulatory bodies such as the CQC, Care Inspectorate Scotland, and Care Inspectorate Wales, are mandated to adhere to specific standards. It is essential to recognise and respect the diverse dietary preferences of individuals, ensuring that their choices are not only acknowledged but also catered to with utmost sensitivity and inclusivity. This commitment aligns seamlessly with the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) quality statements of “Independence, Choice, and Control” and “Treating People as Individuals.”

Ongoing YouGov polls suggest that 2-3% of the British population are vegan and 5-7% are vegetarian and this is rising every year. This means that care services must proactively adapt to the evolving landscape of dietary choices. Offering only a single vegan or vegetarian option is not truly providing a choice. The menu options and snack offerings should be diversified to cater to the preferences of those following plant-based diets, aligning with the care sector’s ongoing commitment to treating people as individuals.

Person-centred care extends to celebrating special occasions in a manner that respects and accommodates individual dietary choices. Vegan birthday cakes, plant-based barbecues, and other festive options should be readily available, embodying the principles of independence and choice outlined by the CQC.

Exploring Plant-Based Culinary Delights

One common concern in plant-based diets is the potential lack of certain nutrients such as calcium, vitamins and protein. Ensuring service users get the required calories and sustenance when their appetite is low can be a difficult task in any circumstances. This can seem even more challenging when your go-to dairy fortification methods can’t be used. Care services should proactively address these issues by reviewing menu choices with service users and chefs and looking at ways in which to provide an enhanced nutritional profile. This could include swapping traditional dairy products with alternatives such as vegan butter, cheese, and plant milk, like soya and coconut creams, or utilising soya, pea or hemp protein powders by adding these to milkshakes, smoothies, or soups.

Consideration should also be given to individuals who may have a loss of capacity. The decision to be vegetarian or vegan during a person’s life often holds very deeply held ethical, environmental or religious beliefs. There are unfortunately horror stories of where a vegan/vegetarian with dementia has ‘demanded’ meat and refusal to give in has caused the person great distress. While it is clear that respecting autonomy and personal choices is paramount, it is essential to distinguish between a conscious choice and a loss of capacity to understand if dietary choices.  Where possible it is important to have conversations about future wishes and advanced care planning in order to do the best in striking a balance between honouring choices and ensuring the well-being of individuals with changing capacities.

Person-Centred Support

Staff training is essential in ensuring that caregivers are well-prepared to understand, respect, and accommodate the diverse preferences of the individuals they support. This fosters an environment that promotes the principles of independence and personal control. Various training courses are available for chefs and staff members to gain an understanding of vegetarian and vegan choices, emphasising the significance of offering inclusive nutritious food options that are also enjoyable for everyone.

While food is commonly the initial consideration, it is crucial to acknowledge other pertinent factors for individuals who are vegetarian and vegan, such as their surrounding environment, beauty products, clothing materials, and even activity supplies that may well need to be reviewed. It is important to use person-centred care planning and personal profiles to ensure staff know and understand a person’s wishes and are able to cater to the appropriately.   

Veganuary provides a timely opportunity for care services to reflect on their approach to dietary choices and person-centred care. By embracing these standards, care providers can ensure that individuals feel respected and supported in their dietary preferences, fostering an environment where everyone, regardless of their choices, can fully participate in the joys of dining, celebrations, and day-to-day life.

Care 4 Quality Support Tool

Our innovative nutritional and mealtime auditing tool allows you to review your own services meal time experience and ensure people receive the highest quality nutrition tailored to their individual needs. It can be found here:

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