In the last 20 years the catering world had developed, re-invented and launched new, exciting concepts and food offerings. At Hanover we are no different. We strive to continuously improve and advance our Extra Care Housing catering service.
Food impacts on almost every aspect of our lives. There is increasing importance on the correct nutritional balance for continued wellbeing. But food at Hanover is not just about nutritionally balanced meals: it’s also about giving pleasure and creating a natural focus to the day. Our restaurants, often open to the local community, are an excellent social meeting place. They help address feelings of isolation and create a relaxed and regular opportunity for social interaction.
For the majority of residents, going out to eat when living at home had been a treat, either as a family evening out or lunch with friends. These occasions tended to be in pubs, or local or ethnic restaurants.
Many Hanover residents have spent a lifetime cooking and know only too well how good food should look and taste. Our restaurants give them the opportunity to not have to cook on a daily basis, but still draw on their experiences and knowledge by co-creating menus and actively monitoring the service. For residents who like to entertain, guests are always welcome. What better way to enjoy a great value Sunday lunch with family and friends without having to compete for a table in a packed local pub! For some, the availability of a freshly cooked, three-course meal is the main reason they choose to move to a Hanover Extra Care Housing estate. But for most, it’s just another one of the many benefits that our Extra Care environment provides.
‘Themed events’ are a regular feature of our catering service. They take place throughout the year and may be centered around traditional festivals such as Burn’s night, Chinese New Year, Diwali or cultural events such as Ladies’ Day Ascot - complete with ‘hat competition’ - or Wimbledon with bubbly, strawberries and cream!
Using the Starchef system, all restaurant meals are analysed for nutritional and allergy information. This information is then made readily available for diners and their support network where necessary. This is complemented by regularly updated food profiles, which are created by the chef in partnership with each resident and record allergies, individual nutritional requirements, contra-indications and, importantly, particular likes and preferences. Chefs have access to a fully qualified nutritionist for advice and input into special requests and variations, or to meet ethnic and specific medical needs.
We employ our own national catering manager to work with our partner Caterplus and our housing staff to ensure the service meets ours and residents’ expectations. Our aim is to provide consistent quality, value for money, high environmental health standards and a forward-thinking, innovative service. Alongside mandatory inspections and regulatory requirements, we conduct our own in-house audits, mystery shopper visits, customer journeys, resident surveys and estate-based self-assessments.
For residents who rent a property with Hanover, the majority of our Extra Care Housing estates have the meal provision as a condition of tenancy. This enables the bulk of the cost to be eligible for housing benefit, with a small weekly personal charge. These charges change from year to year. To find out more information about these charges, please contact the estate in question. Arrangements for leaseholders and shared ownership vary – please contact the estate in question.
Caterplus have developed six ‘Centres of Excellence’ at Hanover estates throughout England. These serve to develop chef expertise but also to push the boundaries of what the service can deliver and how it is experienced. This has included revisiting the presentation of the food and the environment, including layout and decor and how we meet specific needs. These include accessibility, ensuring the service is dementia friendly, and supporting all levels of sensory impairment. Residents living at our Extra Care Housing estates have a wide range of needs and we are continuously working with our partners and customers to ensure we develop best practice.
Examples of this include the universal availability of ‘Oranka’ hydration juices, which are high in vitamin C, with no added sugars or colourings. Like-for-like dishes are created for those with specific nutritional requirements, such as diabetes, gluten sensitivity and low sodium or cholesterol diets. We also have specially designed crockery that looks like the standard crockery in our restaurants, but supports independent eating for those with co-ordination challenges or limiting cognitive impairment.
Our restaurants play a key part in integrating our Extra Care Housing estates into the community. Most of these estates have rooms that can be booked for meetings or social events, with a range of catering options available. The income from these meetings and events also benefits residents by keeping service expenses lower. Local partnerships with University of the 3rd Age (U3A), the voluntary sector (such as SENSE, MIND and Alzheimer’s Society) and social groups bring external organisations into the heart of these estates. We have worked with a number of local learning disability groups to create estate-based enterprises that provide work experience and jobs. Examples include the very popular community cafes at New Larchwood and Patching Lodge in Brighton.