Shafa Rahman at work in the kitchen
Bupa Parkstone Care Home, in Christchurch, opened its doors five months ago and is one of a few select Bupa care homes that offers premium rooms with additional services. Those services include; a daily choice menu, wine with meals and SKY TV, to name a few. In the mornings, when you walk through the care home, baked bread smells of cinnamon and raisin fill the air. This is due to Shafa and the team working busily away in the kitchen making morning tea for the residents.
Shafa completed her degree in Mumbai, India and came to New Zealand in 2004 Her degree in food technology included studies in nutrition which provided her with skills to become a dietician. Prior to her position at Bupa Parkstone, Shafa worked in fine hotels overseas and across New Zealand.
When asked what made her want to move from her previous care home, Shafa says, ‘Well, I had never done an opening before so I was keen to get involved for the experience and use my skills. Parkstone were going to be offering premium services with a menu so that was exciting.’
‘People eat with their eyes,’ Shafa says with enthusiasm. ‘So the focus is not only on the flavour but offering that better presentation. It’s like someone once said to me, "a white plate is a canvas and you can paint what you want."
However at Parkstone, the care home decided to offer food on different coloured plates when they started to notice the positive effect coloured plates, compared to white plates, seemed to have on the residents. Residents eating from the coloured plates seemed to have stronger appetites and more interest in food. The reason for this interest could be attributed to the loss of colour contrast in our eyes as we get older.
Irrespective of plate colour, the food Shafa prepares looks amazing. The presentation suggests the food is being served out of a fine dining gourmet restaurant and would tantalise most taste buds.
Shafa uses her knowledge of nutrition and believes in five plus a day concept, hence all the residents and protein portions are weighed to ensure residents get a healthy nutritious serving. The options include a choice of coloured veggies and starch. ‘If you offer all that, then you have a balanced meal,’ says Shafa.
By providing these options, residents can then make their own choice and take control of their own healthy weight and diet.
Shafa makes a point to get around and visit as many residents as possible. ‘I always ask or let them know if they really like something to let us know. I’ll say to them; "I can make it for you". I especially try to get those residents who have specific preferences as I want everyone to enjoy the food.’
With such a high standard being set, when asked what happens on her day off, Shafa says, ‘I make a point to do on-the-job training with the team working in the kitchen, so if I’m not here, someone else can deliver that same standard,’ she says proudly.
Shafa and her team cater for different ethnicities and prepare culturally required food by going that extra mile and making sure the residents are always made to feel at home.