Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Improving food service delivery at your hospitals

Hospital staff celebrate the food service improvements at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital Site
South Muskoka Hospital Foundation Executive Director Colin Miller hands over a new patient serving tray as Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare Food and Nutrition Services staff Sharon Weese, Jean Dempsey and Karen Fisher look on. The Foundation funded improvements in food service delivery at the SMMH Site.

Food service is a prominent part of the overall quality of patient care. We know that hospital food plays an important part in the patient experience because hospital food is one area where we tend to receive feedback and suggestions for improvement. When you talk to patients, you get a sense of just how important food is to them and how it contributes to their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their care.

Despite so many competing demands for investments in direct patient care, we have been fortunate to upgrade the food service delivery at both of our hospital sites. It’s all thanks to the tremendous investment and support from our fundraising partners at the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation and the Huntsville Hospital Auxiliary.

We have replaced outdated food service equipment that no longer meets optimal performance standards with a new Heat on Demand system. With this new equipment we are ensuring that our patients receive a hot meal in a timely manner.

Meals are prepared just in time for bedside tray service, and the Heat on Demand system uses conduction heating to extend the hot temperature of the meal for up to 60 minutes. So if a patient is off getting a test done when their meal arrives, the food will stay hot! The system also uses less electricity, making it a greener option as we continue to work toward improving our energy efficiency.

Staff and volunteers celebrate the food service improvements at Huntsville District Memorial Hospital Site
Huntsville Hospital Auxiliary members and Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare staff celebrate improvements in food service delivery at the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital Site. From left are Auxilian Sharon McNally, MAHC staff Kim Tatton, Robert Alldred-Hughes and Bev Leslie-Suddaby, Auxilian Helen Sparkes, Auxiliary President Joanne Matthews and Auxilian Gwen Todd.
The new meal delivery carts are ergonomically correct, lighter and easier to manoeuver by our staff. The new serving trays and thermal dishes that meals are presented on are also getting positive reviews from our patients.

At Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, a team of cooks, food service supervisors, clerks, dietary aides and registered dietitians plan for, prepare and serve more than 120,000 meals per year for our inpatients and Meals on Wheels clients. Good nutrition is essential for recovery and good health and menus are based on Canada’s Food Guide and individual nutritional needs or restrictions.

For nearly a year now we have been serving meals as chosen by our patients. On a daily basis, they can select their preferred entree, dessert, soup or salad, and beverage for lunch and suppertime from a list of menu options. Our Dietary Aides use handheld technology at the bedside to record the patient’s meal choice, which is transmitted wirelessly to the kitchen using a paperless system. The desire for choice was something our patients highlighted in patient satisfaction surveys. Not only is this a way to provide better care through an improved service, but also reduces food waste and saves a few trees. Our Dietary staff will only prepare what the patient asks for. It means a more efficient and less labour intensive process thanks to technology like the tablet computer.

Although it may not be at the forefront of our thinking, food is one way we are providing comfort to our patients.