MOST people would agree that certain tastes and smells that immediately evoke strong memories of a particular place or setting.

The smell of peas in a pod might take you back to visiting your grandfather’s allotment as a child, while the smell of new bread wafting from a bakery might recall helping your mother to bake many years ago.

Food plays a huge role in our lives - and it can prompt and become the focus of lively conversations when our health care assistants visit our elderly clients.

At Westmorland Homecare we always concentrate on person-centred care and food and drink likes and dislikes are, of course, very personal.

So, when we are helping to prepare meals or assisting in writing the weekly shopping list, our health care assistants aim to find out the individual client’s tastes and preferences.

And if, in doing so, that leads on to a discussion of times when they have enjoyed such food and the associated memories that go with certain meals, all the better.

Preparing food should not be just about putting a pre-prepared dish in the microwave. We offer hour-long visits, which give us time to actually cook clients’ meals, with all the appetite-whetting aromas that can evoke.

Some clients will have lived through the war and immediate post-war years, when strict rationing was in place and much of the food we take for granted these days was simply not available. Tomatoes might hold a special place in their hearts because they were something that could be readily grown in greenhouses during the war.

Others might have a liking for sweets because, as children, they were denied them for so long. Eggs are another favourite as they were hard to come by. A simple poached egg meal can often be appreciated.

Buying and cooking seasonal food is also important.

Nowadays we are used to being able to eat pretty much anything all-year round. That was not the case for many of our clients for most of their lives. Many still link certain foods to specific times of the year because those were when they could buy them in the shops. For that reason they might much prefer strawberries and raspberries in early summer, but not want tangerines until the autumn.

And bringing them a punnet of picked bilberries in late August and early September might well bring a smile to their face.