Sonas Athlone’s catering supervisor, Marie Gaynor, has been shortlisted for the National Nursing Homes Catering Awards. Ms Gaynor is one of three finalists in the Catering and Nutrition Award category.
Marie Gaynor caters for 75 people seven days a week in Sonas, Athlone. Her team produces 1,575 meals a week, catering for more than 15 different dietary requirements. She takes into account residents’ ethnic, cultural, and religious requirements, vegetarian or vegan diets, the nutritional requirements of residents, dietary requirements, medical requirements, and special requests while designing menus.
To do her job correctly, Marie consults with a dietitian, therapists, nurses, carers, family, and the residents themselves. She believes not only in the nutritional and health benefits of healthy eating, but also in the potential of ‘food memories’ in providing a nostalgic, emotional comfort to the residents. She says: “Life’s most intimate details come flooding back with the sight, smell, and taste of particular foods, recreating the smells from their grandmother’s kitchen.
“Recollection is thus a form of autobiography and it is a very peaceful and enjoyable activity. And afterwards everything is eaten.” Ms Gaynor has made the kitchen an integral part of Sonas Athlone. It is crucial to residents’ life in terms of nutrition, activity, fitness, and in making connections with the community.
Many of the residents were and are still involved with community groups and charities, and Marie works to ensure that connection stays in place through organising events throughout the year. This brings friends, families, and the community into the nursing home while raising much-needed funds for local charities and groups.
“We are all very proud of Marie here in Sonas,” says Siobhan Bell, director of care at Sonas, Athlone. “We wish Marie the best of luck in the final and we will travel to Dublin to support her on the awards night.”