Monthly Archives: July 2014

One of the crucial factors in the success of every great team or workforce is having the right skills in place.

That’s why every fortnight at CAP we send our clients and members ‘A Skill Awareness of the Week’ as part of an on-going programme to help them learn specific skills crucial to working in catering and housekeeping.

As the demands of working in this sector continue to evolve it’s vital that your team is up to speed with the latest best practice.

At CAP we have identified 51 catering and 35 housekeeping ‘core skills’ which we use to help ‘up-skill’ teams in the healthcare and education sectors.

Our Core Skill Awareness Programme ensures every member of staff can learn the required skills at a pace that suits them and at a time that suits them.

Following the programme guarantees the quality of the service being provided. Individuals with the correct skills can communicate well and work well with others, whilst also being more equipped to do the job in hand.

Modern workplaces, especially within care homes, hospitals and schools, need to be flexible. By having a fully trained team it ensures all employees are well-equipped to carry out any task required.

The skills we cover include:
• Working safely
• Performing at the desired standard of work
• Being able to think critically, analyse situations and suggest courses of action
• Planning and organising work and carrying it through to completion
• Reflecting on the work that has been done and drawing conclusions for the future
• Communicating both orally and in writing
• Working with others

How it works:
• The ‘Core Skill’ worksheet being distributed in readiness for display in the following week
• ‘Sign-Off’ worksheet being included in the distribution per individual topic
• ‘Core Skill’ worksheet displayed in a prominent position within the department i.e. catering and/or housekeeping
• During the week, staff play particular attention to the ‘core skill’ and sign-off during the week as to understanding the needs/requirements of the particular ‘core skill’
• Supervisors monitor/observe the actual service delivery on the ‘core skill’ during the week and either sign the ‘Sign-Off’ worksheet in acknowledgement of the standards being deliver or re-train
• The end result is improved staff awareness of the working practices and standards with ‘evidenced’ Core Skill awareness

The annual CAP Award is inclusive of the programme although the Core Skill Awareness Programme is available outside of the annual CAP Award for a nominal annual investment. If you would like to know more please contact


New regulations will mean that from 13th December this year food premises must highlight inclusions of fourteen major allergens by name.
Statements such as ‘May Contain Nuts’ and ‘May Contain Gluten’ will no longer be acceptable with the signposting to be more specific. These allergens are seen as being: –
1. Cereals containing gluten with cereal type to be listed i.e. wheat, rye and barley
2. Crustaceans e.g. prawns, crabs, lobster and crayfish
3. Eggs
4. Fish
5. Peanuts
6. Soybeans
7. Milk
8. Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew and macadamia
9. Celery
10. Mustard
11. Sesame
12. Sulphur dioxide i.e. preservative found in some dried fruit
13. Lupin
14. Molluscs e.g. clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid

With food sold without packaging or wrapped on site, information can be provided in writing, via clear signposting or orally.

For the consumer, a ‘chef card’ is available on By presenting this to the catering team, it will tell them which foods need to be avoided.

To be ready for these changes catering departments should make ‘chef cards’ available from the food counter and display the ‘Allergens Matrix’ for ‘daily’ and ‘general’ menu items.


Simon Harrison is a leading healthcare management consultant currently acting as Executive Chairman with the Executive Care Group, which runs 27 elderly care facilities across the UK.

Simon is often drafted in to healthcare organisations to guide them through challenging periods of change or to help them improve their core service offering.

Here he gives an insight into what makes an organisation tick and how he goes about driving up standards in elderly care through the implementation of strategic, operational and organisational change…

 Whenever I start working with a new healthcare provider I’m always looking for those tell-tale signs, indicators that immediately reveal a great deal about the DNA of that organisation.

For me that’s immediately based around the principles of ABC – Attitude, Behaviour and Culture. I also use my senses to get that “gut feel” about a place using sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

 Often I arrive early, sit in the waiting room and pick up the newspaper with a cup of coffee. Is it today’s paper, how is the coffee? What is the receptionist doing and saying and how is his/her appearance? I may use the bathroom if I have travelled, how clean and welcoming is that. All of that in a matter of minutes. I have my first impressions formed already.

The service provided by Catering and Housekeeping and Cleaning Departments is a vital part in cementing your reputation for quality of service and is so often overlooked as being part of “support services” but in the care environment it is so key. For instance the food service is often something that someone can look forward to during the day. I know my love of food and fine dining would make me a serious critic in a care setting!

After forming these first impressions I will start to look for greater detail and my mind will turn to the following.

Firstly human resources. What is the current state of management and training and development? How does recruitment and retention look? After all, staff are the main resource and the biggest cost.

What systems and processes are in place and how fit for purpose are the governance structures? Crucially, what strategy exists for the management of sales and marketing, business development, PR, NHS commissioner relations and engagement? How a provider is reaching out to the wider world and engaging with its stakeholders is absolutely vital to the success of the business.

I’ll also take a close look at performance management culture to ensure there are internal service review processes in place.

There must be good corporate governance with transparency, visibility and meaningful KPIs. And what is the perception of the regulator? We must be aiming for 100% CQC compliance with zero commissioner embargoes.

And last, but certainly not least, is the company financially viable today, and in the short, medium and long term?

One cannot underestimate the benefits of an external pair of eyes and ears with specialist knowledge to quickly identify problem areas.

I am of the view that one should be able to spot one’s own weaknesses through operational and internal compliance routes. The last thing I ever want is to hear about it first from a regulator otherwise that would be a failing.

My thoughts are always drawn to a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “whenever you do a thing, act as though the world were watching”.

Delivering a higher standard of care has to be the number one priority and that is the only way the business can survive. I am committed 100 per cent to making it a good organisation in which to work where pride and personal standards feature. A key message to staff is that everyone has a role to play in enhancing the reputation of the business. Everyone needs to carry a positive culture and change it where it is not observed. In return staff can expect support from management and colleagues so that people have a rewarding career in a positive environment.

For me, the CAP Awards are part of this process. The awards recognise your Catering and Housekeeping team’s own efforts and crucially provides the external benchmark to motivate them onto greater achievements. Let’s face it, everyone likes a pat on the back and when you present your staff with their CAP Award they’ll know that all of their hard work has been recognised.

Pulling all these elements together goes a long way to putting an organisation on the right track and ensuring the service is of the highest standard and worthy of the residents who call it home.

Simon J Harrison – Managing Director

Ideas Afresh Ltd


STAFFORD Grammar School has won a major national award for the food on offer to pupils and staff.  The catering team at the Stafford school was awarded a Gold CAP Award for its exceptional standards.  The CAP (Continuing Advancement Programme) Awards recognise excellence in catering and are regarded as the highest measure of quality, safe best practices and service.

Head Teacher Michael Darley said he was delighted that the in-house catering team had scooped the top award.  He said: “This Gold Award is thoroughly deserved. The catering team work tirelessly to deliver the highest quality of food to the pupils and the staff, smashing all myths about poor school dinners.  “I eat from the menu every day and I can vouch for the quality – it really is delicious and nutritious.”

Ian Jackson, Managing Director of the CAP Awards, said the catering team at Stafford Grammar had impressed him with their catering skills and professionalism.  He said: “There was a great food service throughout the day with a lovely combination of oatcakes filled with cheese for a mid-morning snack and an outstanding Thai green curry for lunch.  “Despite the tight kitchen space there was an interesting and fabulous array of food items being produced, both hot and cold. They are worthy winners of the Gold Award.”

 The next generation of chefs are also taken care of at the Burton Manor school – which currently has around 380 pupils.

 Ian added: “The catering manager is also involved in cookery classes at the Prep School and there is a wonderful interaction between pupils.

During the award appraisal there was also good feedback from the pupils across all year groups (ages five to 18) – the most experienced judges!

 Award judges said the catering team ran a progressively managed service with 5 stars from EHO, robust HACCP and financial controls, allergen awareness in place six months ahead of the legal guidelines and feedback sessions in the Prep School via forms from the teachers.