Catering costs in Extra Care

Sarah Turpitt 26/06/24 General Housing Topics

We are currently looking at a new Extra Care Development and the cost of catering is a big issue for us. We would be interested to learn how other housing providers have made restaurants pay for themselves. We are particularly keen to learn about how the contract costs are passed on to residents, is this through service charges, direct sales to the resident collected by the catering company etc. We have a current scheme which is not really paying for itself as we are unable to get full cost recovery through service charges.

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Tobin Stephenson 26/06/24

Afternoon Sarah.

This is a thorny issue and when I commissioned work on a food offer for our newest Extra Care Scheme, it was clear there wasn't a business model that would work for us. In our case we have built a care home and short breaks unit alongside the Extra Care to provide an 'anchor' for the food offer. One kitchen on site to serve the 80 resident in the care home and SBU and to deliver a front of house offer for the Extra Care residents and the wider community. Not open yet but modelling suggests this should work.

While you might not have the opportunity to start from base design principles like this, perhaps there is a local care home or other facility that could outreach a catering offer into your EC?

Julian Brewer 26/06/24

Don't have a direct answer, but am happy to discuss the rather different approach we are considering for new extra care.


I have explored and tried many different routes to provide a catering option within Extra Care services. This is much easier to do when you are designing a new service for the future, or if the current facilities are easily accessible to the public.
Making catering work in an Extra Care Housing service unless you have other services on site or near by that need catering is a challenge regardless of the size of the service.
In my experience it is better to look for a partnership with a catering provider or person wanting to set up a small business themselves.
The catering industry/person will provide commerciality but will expect to generate a surplus, so joint working, promotion and creative thinking have to come into the relationship to make it work for all parties, and it needs to be a partnership with a good service level agreement in place that is mutually beneficial.

I have got some examples of what in my experience has worked and not worked and would be happy to have a chat about this to share my views. This is not a new topic and has been an area that has been explored for sometime now.
On-site catering is seen as a much needed service for people wanting to move into Retirement living, and is a key selling point when marketing the schemes, but it is a challenging area if you need the service to cover its costs, even more so if you want to generate a surplus.