Neil has reached the finals of the 2020 Regional Great British Care Awards (GBCA) for Yorkshire and Humberside. The Great British Care Awards showcase the amazing efforts of the social care workforce and pay tribute to their continued dedication. Catering teams play a key role in the health and well-being of care home residents and the Great British Care Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise their contribution.
My name is Neil Standish, after qualifying at catering college I began my journey in hospitality working at one of the biggest hotels in York. Over many long split-shifts, I worked my way up to Sous Chef. After almost four years we had been through three takeovers, countless Head Chefs and General Managers, I felt it was time for a change. I moved to Lanzarote to work in a friend's bar. Serving over 300 meals a day in the blistering sun I soon realised that whatever was thrown at me I still had a passion for what was on the next plate.
On moving back to the UK, I got a second chef job in a boutique hotel and restaurant, after a few months I was promoted to Head Chef. In the summer of 2000, a lady who had dined with us that evening asked if I wanted a job and gave me her card. She turned out to be the owner of Somerset House Nursing Home at the time. I was hesitant to start with, leaving hotels to work at a care home was something I never imagined. Twenty years later and I'm still at Somerset House. Every day is different, we treat all our residents as individuals and that goes for their catering preferences too.
Food plays a big role in the lives of our residents, we ensure that we mark special occasions and celebrations, our residents always look forward to their birthday cake. We use themed days to encourage people to try different foods and have recently introduced ‘Grazing stations’ to the home to encourage residents to stay hydrated and make a range of healthy foods available throughout the day. I have recently run tasting sessions as an activity with residents, this was great fun for them and encouraged people to sample exotic fruit that they usually wouldn’t think to try.
I try to come up with new ideas to ensure there’s always something different to try. Our breakfast buffet has been a big hit, we set all the tables with fresh linen each day and residents can see the food on offer, the smell of cooked breakfast and fresh danish pastries always entices people to come and see what’s on offer. Since we’ve introduced the breakfast buffet, we’ve noticed people are eating more and still enjoying a cooked breakfast, which we can also cook to order.
Along with my kitchen team and front of house, we provide a bespoke service to each resident, we work closely with the nursing and care team to ensure that each person’s nutritional requirements are catered to. We tailor each dish to people’s different dietary requirements, for example, we ensure that that there are vegetarian, gluten-free and texture modified choices on offer.
We maintain very high standards of hygiene in the kitchen at Somerset House and have just been awarded the top 5-star hygiene rating. Country Court took over Somerset House in June 2018 which has meant many changes and benefits, but the family atmosphere here has not changed. Not only do our residents look forward to the next meal but also what the future will bring, after all this is their home, and I am privileged to cook for them.