The issue of food in accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people (Ehpad) has been in the spotlight for more than a week. On October 26, a survey of 60 million consumers pointed out the poor quality of meals served in nursing homes. End of October, according to France 3 Bretagne, three residents of an establishment located in Ille-et-Vilaine died, victims of food poisoning. A dramatic news item that questions the market for meal preparation in nursing homes. Yann Reboulleau, president of the group of 17 Ehpad Philogeris, explains to Capital how it is organized and why establishments favor the use of external service providers.
What are the specificities of catering in nursing homes?
Yann Reboulleau: It is a separate market within the collective catering sector. The nutritional contributions are not the same as for the meals you can serve in hospitals or schools. As nursing homes welcome residents who are potentially more malnourished than in the past, there is an action plan to implement each time. And we must not forget that on average, between 10 and 20% of residents eat only mixed or chopped foods.
>> Our service – Home support, retirement homes, serviced residences… Make an appointment with an advisor by telephone to find the best solution for your loved ones
With inflation, is it difficult to maintain quality service?
With the rise in food costs, it is sometimes necessary to make trade-offs to maintain a reasonable cost price. But be careful, you must not take the easy route by saying: “If I add food powders, it costs me less than fresh products and it allows me to have nutritional benefits without there being any taste and the quality of the presentation”. When you offer chopped or mixed foods, you must take the time to make an effort in presentation so that the visual pleasure is there and avoid presenting a shapeless mush.
Why do establishments prefer to use external service providers to provide meals?
The choice to outsource your catering service responds to several parameters. The first is the size of the establishment. If you hire a chef, the cost price will be lower for an establishment with 100 seats than for one with 40 seats. There are also real estate infrastructure issues because when you size a kitchen, if your establishment is small, its cost per square meter may be high. Sometimes you just don’t have the space for a kitchen and you just have to worry about heating, presenting and serving the food. This can also be a choice for the management of a group of nursing homes which enters into an agreement for all these structures with large groups like Sodexo or Elior.
Ehpad, home help: Aurore Bergé confronts the departments with their responsibilities
There is also a question of security…
It is true that the entire dimension of health safety can be taken into account when choosing subcontracting. In the event of a problem in the preparation chain or in the cold chain, responsibility then falls on the service provider and not the establishment. Finally, there is also a managerial dimension because catering is a profession in tension. Not only is it difficult to find cooks to provide service 7 days a week, but in the event of an absence, finding a replacement can also be complicated. It is a management which adds to the difficulties that directors of establishments encounter in recruiting nursing assistants or care assistants.
Receive our latest news
Every week, articles to read to better anticipate your retirement.