Long-term care residents enjoy improved meal selections
December 19, 2012
Changes at all 72 long-term care facilities based on resident, family feedback
CALGARY– Improvements have been made at all 72 Alberta Health Services (AHS) long-term care centres based on feedback gathered this past summer and fall from residents, their families and community members.
The changes include making more meals from scratch on-site; bringing in more Alberta-grown foods, such as Taber corn and seasonal berries; and adding menu favourites, such as freshly-made borscht and shepherd’s pie, as well as culturally relevant foods such as bannock and cabbage rolls.
“AHS long-term care facilities are home to more than 14,000 Albertans who have contributed significantly to our province,” said Health Minister Fred Horne, who last summer directed AHS to bring back on-site meal preparation to all long-term care centres they operate.
“We need to listen to what they have to say, and what their families and community members have to say, about the meals we should be serving in our long-term care centres. That’s what we did this summer: we listened and we responded. I am pleased to hear they are now enjoying food that’s nutritious, tastes like home cooking, and satisfies cultural food preferences.”
The Closer to Home initiative – developed by AHS in partnership with Health Advisory Councils (HAC) across Alberta – gathered more than 1,700 suggestions from residents, their families, members of the community and facility staff on changes and improvements to menu selections. Each council consists of 10 to 15 volunteer members who help facilitate dialogue between their communities and AHS.
Residents at all 72 AHS-operated long-term care centres were consulted. Tastings and kitchen tours were also held at facilities throughout the province, at which local community members were able to sample the foods served and provide feedback on the taste, quality and appearance.
“Food is much more than just a way of getting proper nutrition; it’s a big part of the quality of life for our residents,” said Heather Truber, Director of Food Safety, Menu and Supply for AHS.
Truber stresses AHS will continue to work with communities and partners including Health Advisory Councils, to further improve the meals offered in its long-term care facilities.
“We’ve added more choice, variety, flavours and foods that have particular significance to our residents, and expanded the number of foods purchased from local Alberta farmers and vendors,” she said. “We will continue to work collaboratively with vendors to broaden this further.”
Betty Ross, an 82-year-old resident at the Willow Creek Continuing Care Centre in Claresholm, says she really appreciates mealtime now and can see and taste the menu changes over the past few months. “Now I enjoy every bit of food that comes out of the kitchen,” she said.
AHS food-preparation staff at the long-term care centres have received the required training to meet the recommendations of the Closer to Home consultations.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.8 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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