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Cooking skills blog 9. The new eatwell guide, the REHIS accredited cooking skills course and ‘training for trainers’

Last week I attended the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) event for those that teach the accredited Elementary Cooking skills course and other REHIS food and health courses.

For those that are not aware of the REHIS Elementary Cooking skills course – it is short (six-hours minimum); it is suitable for people with few cooking skills; and it has been run for a range of groups, including young people, community café volunteers and more vulnerable people such as those with learning disabilities. It can be run flexibly and has been well-received by community cooking skills course practitioners as it covers many of the common themes of their courses, with the bonus of national accreditation. Their views of the course are available in a report we put together after it had been available for a year.

Susan Kennedy (NHS Forth Valley) was one of the speakers at the REHIS event. She explained how she is currently working with REHIS to develop a joint REHIS and NHS Forth Valley accredited short course: ‘How to Cook with groups’ for those that wish to run their own community cooking courses in the area, including the REHIS Elementary Cooking Skills course.

There are several other ‘train the trainer’ type courses available in Scotland that may be suitable for those wanting to run the REHIS Elementary Cooking Skills course. However, if you would like to run it, get advice from REHIS first to check which training (if any) you need to do.

Dr Gillian Purdon from Food Standards Scotland provided an update at the REHIS event about the new eatwell guidance which replaces the previous ‘eatwell plate’ as the standard UK nutrition guidance. Those attending the event shared information about eatwell guidance resources that are already available online, including from Public Health England. Some people had already bought the new eatwell floor mat from the Comic Company. Hopefully, more (and free) resources will eventually be more widely available.

The REHIS Cooking Skills Course has also been useful for our cooking skills study group members: they are all registered to deliver it and it has been useful because:

  • Observation of individuals’ cooking skills is part of running the REHIS Elementary Cooking Skills course. It is not too difficult to adopt this approach when evaluating the skill development of participants as part of the study group; and
  • Our list of indicators to check if participants’ have improved their cooking skills was developed using the objectives of the REHIS course. This gave us a good standard list of criteria to use to evaluate the study group courses (although the REHIS formal assessment sheet will go into more details for each of these.)

In the next blog, I’ll return to the theme of evaluating cooking skills courses and look at some examples of questionnaires.

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