Residents’ voices heard in AHS food service review
November 23, 2010
CALGARY – An independent review of the provincial menu program for nursing homes and small hospitals is complete, with recommended actions underway.
"Seniors living in health-oriented facilities told us they want food that is nutritious and reminds them of home," said Gene Zwozdesky, Minister, Alberta Health and Wellness. "As a result, we will reflect more of their wishes in our menus."
The review, commissioned by Alberta Health Services, acknowledges that the provincial menu program has good foundational elements, such as nutritional guides and menu planning, as well as provides recommendations on areas for improvement such as expanding the menu to incorporate more local favourites and including resident input on new menu items.
Immediate improvements include:
- expanding the menu choices to offer residents more variety and more of their favourites;
- encouraging facilities to display meal options visually so that residents can be involved in making the choice;
- providing product sampling sessions for seniors, families, local staff and community members to taste and provide feedback on new menu items; and
- reconnecting with local suppliers to give smaller sites the ability to buy smaller quantities.
Improvements in the near future:
- plan and build on menu choices with culinary teams, led by an Executive Chef;
- incorporate regular menu feedback from local kitchen staff, who have first-hand knowledge of what residents don’t like by the food left on their plates; and
- develop a computerized menu management system to help cooks in smaller facilities plan meals and provide an opportunity to share ideas and successes with each other.
From September 14 to October 4, 2010, reviewers visited 26 facilities, spoke with residents, families and staff and used a questionnaire to guide conversations about food services. The review included discussions with resident councils and existing patient satisfaction surveys.
Patient/resident satisfaction surveys are conducted every six months. AHS will continue to “finetune” the menu and provide updates to the province on the results of the reviews. A literature review was included as part of the research and an action plan was created.
“We are making immediate improvements based on the feedback of our patients and residents,” said Andrew Will, Executive Vice-President, Clinical Support Services. ”We’ll continue to work with these individuals to improve our menus and deliver high quality, nutritious meals.”
The external review helped to compare AHS food service with similar services across the country – leading toward best practice in Canada in both quality and patient satisfaction.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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