What We Do Luton & Bedfordshire

The Food First Team aims to reduce the incidence of malnutrition and dehydration in Luton and South Bedfordshire by:

  • Taking a food based approach first line where appropriate for the management of malnutrition in older people.
  • Working in collaboration with primary care (e.g. GPs and District Nursing) to ensure the appropriate prescribing of oral nutritional supplements and specialist infant formulas. We also support with gluten free product prescribing in Luton only.
  • Working with older people care homes to support them with meeting the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Regulation 14: Meeting nutritional and hydration needs, by auditing nutritional care plans.
  • Providing a training and education programme to staff within care homes to enable them to identify and manage malnutrition and dehydration appropriately.
  • Providing one to one clinical dietetic support to individuals who meet the service referral criteria.
  • Highlighting nutrition as a priority to all.

Food First Advice

Where appropriate the team advises to use a food based approach as first line to manage those identified at risk of malnutrition. This approach consists of three key principles:

  • Fortified diet: Adding extra energy and protein to meals/snacks without increasing the size of the meal/snack.
  • High energy snacks: For a little and often approach and good for those with a small appetite.
  • Nourishing drinks: A milk based drink which is a good source of energy and protein and can tailored to meet individual preferences.


Our interactive training is carried out by both Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Assistant Practitioners. The training sessions cover the following:

  • How to identify malnutrition risk using the ‘Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool’ (‘MUST’) which is a validated tool developed by BAPEN5.
  • How to manage someone at risk of malnutrition using a food based approach first line, where appropriate.
  • How to manage residents with special dietary requirements e.g. a soft or pureed diet, coeliac disease and diabetes (as per referral criteria).
  • How to provide a healthy, balanced diet especially if a fortified diet is required longer term.

We do not expect care homes to be able to reach and maintain high standards of nutritional care after just one training session, so the team keep in regular contact and are able to offer homes individualised support dependant on their needs.
The Food First Team also provide training sessions to other health and social care professionals, domiciliary care providers, charity groups and patients groups upon request within the Luton and South Bedfordshire area. Please contact the team for further information.

Care Home Audit and Award Scheme

Care homes are audited on a 6 monthly basis against the ‘Food First Care Home Award Expectations’, which is recognised by local councils and is based on CQC Regulation 14: Meeting nutritional and hydration needs. The ‘Food First Care Home Award’ scheme was set up to reward and maintain best practice.
The audits are carried out by a member of the Food First Team and measure the care homes performance against 14 different standards. If standards are met, a Food First Certificate will be issued (valid for one year). When a care home is certified, a member of the Food First team will re-audit every six months to ensure that high standards are maintained. For care homes that do not initially achieve certification, the Food First team will provide on-going appropriate support in order for the care home to work towards becoming certified.