Working as a Chef in the Social Care Sector

By Geraldine Ryan posted 24 days ago


A graduate of GMIT Culinary arts, I enjoyed many years working in Hotel and restaurants, loving the competitive, high energy, creative world of hospitality and making great friends along the way.

After returning to education my interests evolved focusing on the relationship between diet and health, in particular relating to our senior population. Taking a food first approach to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition and hydration care supporting our ageing population to eat well, live well and age well at home.

In 2008 I joined COPE Galway Senior Support services service/community-catering/ as Executive Chef promoting the importance of achieving good health through nutrition and advocating for primary prevention of nutrition-related illness in our ageing population.

Malnutrition is one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of older people in Ireland. The HSE estimate 145,000 adults are malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

Malnutrition is often due to illness, but it can also be due to social factors such as social isolation.

It can be especially challenging for older adults to combat the risk of malnutrition as it may become more difficult to shop for, prepare and cook food. Age related illness, reduced mobility, recovery from surgery, bereavement, or inability to shop are just some of the reasons older people may not be able to access the nutritional support they need. Nurturing our older people, empowers independence, reduces risk  of malnutrition, increases social connectedness, and builds stronger communities.


Having many years’ experience supporting the dietary needs of older people, I lead on product and service innovation, achieving national awards for innovation in the social care sector for addressing social care and nutritional needs to support independent living at home.

In 2018 I co-founded Meals4Health a social enterprise providing nutritional and social care services for older people and people living with chronic illness or disability. Social enterprises are businesses whose core objective is to achieve a social, societal or environmental impact. Like other businesses, social enterprises pursue their objectives by trading in products and services on an ongoing basis. However, any surpluses generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving social objectives rather than maximising profit.

Under my management Meals4health has become an award winning, vibrant community meals service, motivated to compete on the grounds of quality, innovation and excellence to satisfy the demands of our ageing population, bringing strategic thinking, business development as well as heaps of energy and resourcefulness.

I am working for a future where older people are supported, valued and cared for, to live well and age well at home. The World Health Organisation has outlined 17 sustainable development goals that will be completed by 2030. The third goal outlined is to promote good health and wellbeing. Meals4Health are proud to align themselves with this goal and aim to promote good health and wellbeing through our nutritious meals, designed to meet the specific nutritional requirements of older people and others needing specialised nutritional support.

I want to help build a society that cares for, values and supports our older people and make Ireland a great place in which to grow old.

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