Clients, staff and visitors will have noticed that the kitchen and café area of STEPS Rehabilitation has undergone a transformation in recent months, with upgrades focussing on increased menu choices, better health and an improved client service.

Head Chef, Alex Stephenson explains the recent changes, and how these will complement the rehabilitation journey of our clients.

Alex joined the team at STEPS in February 2020 having previously worked at a top private hospital in Sheffield as Sous chef. During his time in his previous position, he helped to improve the standards throughout the hospital, helping it reach the goal of an ‘outstanding’ rating with the CQC. Since joining STEPS as the Head Chef, he has used this experience and dedication to the very best catering standards to drive changes and improve the service we offer to our clients.

Streamlined Service

The kitchen team at STEPS provide nutritious, high-quality food, not only to our clients, but also to family and friends, visitors and staff. Put simply, they like to fuel everyone!

In 2021, STEPS introduced the ‘Hospitality Host’ role, vital members of the team who act as a bridge between the kitchen and the clients. This is particularly important to the clients who do not or can’t eat in the café area. We currently have three hospitality hosts who help clients choose their daily meals, which are sent to the kitchen team in the morning so they can prepare for the day. They also ensure the clients receive their meals as and when is required. This includes hot drinks, fruit and snacks if required. They liaise with the client, the kitchen team and the clinical team to ensure dietary requirements are met. We also allocate a rehabilitation assistant to be on duty during mealtimes in the café to support clients with whatever they need. This can be just chatting with clients eating alone or serving and clearing away meals, serving drinks, and help with eating if needed. 

Recovering from a serious injury takes a long time, and ensuring the body has the best nutrition for healing and energy for therapy has always been a vital part of the rehabilitation programmes at STEPS. In addition to this, most clients that have had long hospital stays prior to admission to us, have not had the best nutrition and have often resorted to ordering many takeaways to have a break from hospital food! They have also very often not had a meal at a table with a loved one for many months. Something most of us take for granted. Being able to have a meal of their choice with family or a loved one is an important part of their recovery.

Requirements can include a high fibre diet for clients who struggle to regulate bowel movement, food prepared to the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework for clients who struggle to swallow and weight management for clients who have become less active due to their injuries, become a wheelchair user, or are being fitted for a prosthetic limb following an amputation.


As well as a full breakfast menu, there is also cereal and other breakfast items available to clients. These are available in the 3 upstairs kitchens as well as from the main café kitchen. This allows clients to help themselves and maintain independence. Previously these were kept in the kitchen, but they are now on cake stands, ‘Front of House’, giving clients the freedom to help themselves.

Clients also use the upstairs kitchens to prepare meals as they adapt to managing day to day routines before they transition home.

Increased Choices

The menu at STEPS includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and drinks, with a vegetarian and meat option offered daily. The menu is made up of a café menu, healthier choices menu and home comforts menu, all of which are reviewed annually and designed on a seasonal basis using locally sourced produce.

Where possible, the kitchen team are also happy to make clients meals that are not featured on the daily menu if there isn’t anything that they fancy on offer.

The coffee machine has now been relocated so that clients, visitors and the STEPS team can make themselves a coffee, tea or hot chocolate more easily. We are also very happy to now have an instant hot and cold filtered water tap. Meal bookings are reviewed daily, to ensure the kitchen team are prepared for visitors who wish to share a meal with a client of STEPS.

Each and every menu at STEPS is designed to reduce food waste and harm to the environment.

Alex is delighted with the kitchen upgrade and the improved catering service for clients, which continues to be an integral part of the rehabilitation process at STEPS.