As our catering manager, Lorraine is responsible for planning and cooking a wide variety of meals for our independent living customers. In this interview, she talks about herself and her role, including her favourite meal to cook, how her job has changed since lockdown and what her ideal superpower would be.
What does an average day look like for you?
I start the day by cooking and preparing lunch with my team for our customers in Clement House and Broadway House. Our kitchen is located in Clement House, so all the food needs to be ready by 11.30am, so that it can be taken to Broadway House on time.
We have made a lot of changes to the way we work this year, due to Covid-19. I don’t get to interact with our customers as much as I used to, but I still enjoy saying hello and having a quick chat when I see them.
We now change our menu every week, instead of every month – and our customers can choose what they want to eat in advance. The food is freshly prepared every day and delivered directly to their doors. This was a challenging adjustment, but thanks to our hard work we have perfected the new system.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
A lot has changed recently, but I still look forward to coming to work every day. For starters, I take great joy in cooking with fresh produce, and most of the vegetables and meat we use are fresh and sourced locally.
I also enjoy cooking surprise goodies for our customers. We didn’t let the lockdown stop us from treating them, and we baked over 400 cupcakes for our scheme customers, as a part of a goody bag and for our VE day celebrations. This was a huge task, but it was well worth it as our customers loved them!
It feels so good to know our hard work is appreciated and we have received some lovely thank you cards, which I have displayed in the office for the whole team to see.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
At the moment, my greatest responsibility (and challenge) is making sure that our customers remain safe from Covid-19. We have always followed excellent hygiene practices and were given a 5-star rating in our environmental health inspection earlier this year. We use high-quality PPE (personal protective equipment) and have daily health checks, and we also introduced new rules to limit the number of people in the kitchen, so that social distancing can be maintained.
A more general challenge is making sure we prepare the daily meals on time and to an excellent standard. As lockdown eases we are now planning how to reopen our canteens safely again so that customers can once again enjoy their meals in the company of friends.
What’s your favourite dish to cook?
I love cooking traditional English food. Meals like steak and ale pie or traditional roast dinner are my absolute favourites. They always tend to be the most popular, particularly the roasts, as everyone loves our potatoes.
As it is summer, we’re making a lot of salads for our customers, but otherwise, the menu hasn’t been impacted too much by the lockdown. Today, our customers can choose between fish pie and gammon for dinner.
What would you change about the housing industry?
I think Silva Homes sets a great example for other housing associations wishing to provide homes for older people. These homes are designed to help people live independently for longer, which isn’t the same as a care home. I think independent living should be much more common in the UK, as it offers a better quality of life for people who want to live in an affordable home.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to stretch time slightly, so that I don’t have to rush around in the kitchen get to all the meals cooked on time!