Passionate chef brings fine dining experience to Harbourview Care Home

A very special chef who loves to sing is helping to brighten the lives of residents at a Wellington care home in New Zealand. Jerson Lat has been awarded for his beautiful and delicious culinary creations, at the 2017 Global Bupa Awards.

Bupa Harbourview's head chef Jerson Lat, treats every resident like a member of his family.

"Great food is more than good for the body: it brings people together; it is good for the soul. But great food doesn't just belong in fancy restaurants," he says. "I cook for the residents like I would cook for my family."

In fact, the residents are treated to cuisine fancier than many of them ever received at home.

"His passion is inspiring. He's such a gentle, respectful man. He sings songs to the residents and engages with them when he's dishing out the meals," says care home manager Erin McGlynn.

Jerson first came to Bupa Harbourview Care Home in Porirua, Wellington, many years ago as a dishwasher, inspired to earn his chef's whites. He left to hone his skills at a high-end restaurant, gaining an industry standard City and Guildes of London chef qualification along the way.

But despite working in what he'd previously considered a 'dream job', he missed the care home companionship and longed for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with his customers, like the friendships he had while working at Bupa Harbourview.

He was also starting a family, and with a new baby on board he wanted to work more family-friendly hours.

So, he took the plunge and returned to the care home, setting a goal to revolutionise its kitchen and menu.

The results have been outstanding, so much so that Jerson was honoured at the 2017 Global Bupa Awards for his excellent preparation and presentation of residents' food and for sharing his expertise with others.

He was presented with the Nicholas Beazley 'Everyday Hero' award, which acknowledges those who truly embody Bupa's values: passionate, caring, open, accountable, authentic, courageous and extraordinary, in everything they do for customers and residents.

According to recent Bupa surveys, the food satisfaction has increased by 68%, and there's even been a noticable difference in residents' weight.

Many older residents have trouble maintaining a healthy weight, but their new-found excitement for meal times has helped them gain much-needed kilos and strength.

"Since his return to the Care Home in February, I've noticed how well the residents look and how they eagerly look forward to meals. At mealtimes they’re ready and waiting,” Erin says. "We're very lucky to have him. His food looks amazing and tastes amazing, it doesn’t matter what it is – it all tastes good," she says.

"Care home residents deserve to feel like fine diners at every meal," says Jason.

And the residents agree.

"The meals have been much better since Jerson has been here," says one.

Serving good nutritional food, amongst many other things, is important when it comes to delivering quality care.

While taking care of the elderly has it's challenges, Jerson puts the resident’s wellbeing, needs and feelings at the centre of everything he does. We call that a Person First approach to care.

“Whatever Jerson makes is always great,” says Erin. “But there are always a few that don’t like new flavours or tastes, and he caters for them as well, so he keeps everyone happy,” she says.

On behalf of everyone at Bupa, congratulations Jerson!

Read more about careers at Bupa